Press Release

SIPTU criticises Leo Varadkar for undermining rights of workers in Ireland

Date Released: 08 February 2021

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Gerry McCormack, has criticised the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, for co-signing a letter which undermines the right of workers in Ireland to collective bargaining.

In the letter, ministers of several countries have challenged a draft directive by the EU Commission which would make it legally binding on member states to introduce the right to collective bargaining and ensure fairer wages and conditions of work.

Leo Varadkar and the other ministers have asked that the EU Commission make its proposal a recommendation rather than a legally binding directive. 

Gerry McCormack said: “The position taken by the Irish government is not surprising given its past record, particularly when it comes to the issue of the right of workers to collectively bargain. 

“The Minister, Leo Varadkar, knows that if the proposals from the EU are just recommendations, they will be absolutely useless for workers in Ireland. The three parties in government have a track record of supporting employer’s interests above those of workers and this is just another disgraceful example of this.

“The draft directive would require member states to bring collective bargaining coverage up to a minimum of 70% of the workforce. The EU average is 65%. In Ireland it is around 40%.  Some of the states that have signed this letter have decent collective bargaining regimes. Others do not, including in this country. Our system is weak and imbalanced and does not protect the interests of working people. A recommendation rather than a legally binding directive by the EU Commission would be of no use to workers in Ireland.”

The letter was also signed by ministers in Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.


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