Press Release

SIPTU addresses European unions on European Works Councils’ campaign

Date Released: 22 November 2021

The SIPTU European Works Council (EWC) Expert, Denis Sheridan, outlined the campaign to strengthen legislation governing the operation of EWCs in Ireland to a meeting of representatives of European unions and politicians, last week (Wednesday, 17th November).

The meeting was held at the offices of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), with several dozen representatives of unions in the EU and politicians joining the event virtually. Among those who addressed the meeting were Sinn Féin senator, Paul Gavan, and Labour Party senator, Marie Sherlock.

Denis Sheridan said: “Ireland is among those Member States of the EU with the weakest collective bargaining rights which is mirrored in one of the weakest transpositions of the EWC EU Directive into our national laws. There is a growing trend of multi-national companies, whose main operations are based in other EU member states and the UK, moving their headquarters to Ireland, allowing them to circumvent the proper operation of EWCs and undermine workers’ conditions of employment. 

“Since Brexit, it is estimated that nearly 100 firms have made this move and have then curtailed the operation of their EWC. This means that the failure of the Irish legislation on EWCs is now impacting on the rights of hundreds of thousands of workers across Europe.”

He added: “SIPTU is campaigning for change in EWC legislation in Ireland at both a national and EU level. This is being done through legal action, lobbying and through the use of the industrial relations mechanisms. 

“If action is not taken on this issue by the Government, it could lead, in time, to industrial action. What the Government must take on board is that the current situation is directly affecting the reputation of the country.” 

Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, Isabelle Schömann, said:  “The proper operation of EWCs is crucial to improving democracy in the workplace for workers across Europe. It is essential that the EU Directive on EWCs is properly implemented  into legislation in Ireland. Sanctions for breaking EU rules on EWCs must also be strong.”

ICTU General Secretary, Patricia King, strongly endorsed the SIPTU campaign, she added that the weakness of the legislation which underpins the operation of EWCs in Ireland is a consequence of centre right governments not placing a primacy on workers’ rights and it had to be challenged.


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