The Respect at Work campaign has brought together trade unions to fight for better protections for workers seeking to organise in their workplaces.

The Respect at Work campaign launched with a call for greater legal protections for trade union activity which would benefit workers and bring Ireland in line with its EU partners.

 SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley, said: “Along with Cyprus we are the only EU State which does not provide trade union activists with effective legal protection prior to dismissal. Proper worker representation is key to the health of an economy and the workers within it.

 “The EU has recognised this. Its Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages states that if a Member State has less than 80% collective bargaining coverage across its economy, that is workers being able to come together to negotiate with their employer, an action plan must be put in place to increase it.

“The Directive comes into force for Ireland on 15th November. Ireland currently has approximately 34% of workers able to collectively bargain, which is overwhelmingly done through trade unions. The best way the Government can meet its EU commitments and ensure people get a fair reward for their work is by removing some of the barriers that prevent workers from organising a trade union in their workplace.”

The Respect at Work campaign includes SIPTU, the Financial Services Union, Mandate Trade Union and the Communication Workers’ Union. The launch of the campaign was held in conjunction with the Irish Second-Level Students Union (ISSU). 

ISSU President, Shari Irfan, said: “There is an increasing interest among young workers about coming together in a union to negotiate with their employers. In Ireland, there is a so-called ‘Code of Practice’ that states that an employer should consult the union before dismissing union representatives. In much of the rest of Europe, this is the law.”

He added: “Simply making this the law in Ireland, along with other measures to allow workers greater information about how to organise a trade union in their workplace, will be good for workers, the economy and bring us in line with the policy of the EU. It’s a win, win, win for everybody.”