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A slack day at the office…

6th August 2014

It must’ve been a slack day at the office for Minister for Business & Employment, Ged Nash TD, that he had the time to issue a news release announcing that he was ‘working to have legislation on collective bargaining rights enacted by the end of this year’.

ISME is dismayed though that a Minister for Business and Employment is not busy doing what we would have thought his title says on the tin. Unemployment and emigration are the twin evils that are scourge of this country. Fixing unemployment, making the conditions right to allow entrepreneurs to create the jobs that are so badly needed, should be a Minister for Business and Employment’s first and last priority.

There is not and there has not been any major issue around ‘collective bargaining’. This is a case of the minister tilting at windmills or playing to his political gallery. Has he not noticed that the real issue for business is the lack of credit for business. Nothing else. Fix that and you start fixing the jobs crisis.

ISME is intrigued by the term ‘collective bargaining’ that has crept into the announcement. ‘Collective bargaining’ does not mean ‘trade union’ bargaining. ISME has not noticed any clamour amongst employees for this, as consultation is already enshrined in the law. So ISME is not sure what problem the minister thinks he is fixing?

The junior minister is quoted in his own statement as saying “This legislation would significantly strengthen the rights of workers in companies that refuse to engage in collective bargaining while strengthening statutory protection to guard against the victimisation of workers in such companies.”

ISME is Ireland’s independent representative body of 9,000 members who between them represent businesses employing over 225,000 people. What is the minister doing to protect those people’s livelihood when State employees, with guaranteed jobs, can announce wildcat public transport strikes?

The cynicism with which these strikes have been organised, not against the employer, but against the general public wishing to travel on the very days of both All Ireland hurling and football finals is breath-taking. What gives the rail union the right to cost Irish businesses hundreds of thousands if not millions of Euro if people cannot travel to the matches at Croke Park? People take the train to matches so they can safely socialise at two of the great events on the Irish sports calendar but a trade union has decided they won’t be allowed to travel in safety.

Maybe the minister for business should take his brief more seriously and try to help fix the real rather than the imaginary problems within the economy.