Ireland - Court session delivers arguments for maintaining ERO’s - March 24, 2011

The conditions which led some 60 years ago to the establishment of a system for setting minimum pay and conditions for 190,000 vulnerable low-paid workers still exist, an industrial relations expert has told the Commercial Court. Dr Michelle O’Sullivan of the University of Limerick said only 6% of workers in the catering sector are unionized and the joint labour committee (JLC) system provided a negotiating forum for workers who would otherwise not have one. Workers in the catering sector have the lowest average earnings of any sector, she added. She had concluded from a study of the JLC system that it benefited not only vulnerable workers but also employers as it created a level playing field and guarded against undercutting of wages among employers and erosion of standards in areas such as the security industry. The system also provided for minimum working conditions tailored to particular industries and not available in other legislation, she said. She agreed aspects of the system required modernisation. Dr O’Sullivan was giving evidence in the action by fast-food operators challenging the constitutionality of the laws under which minimum pay and conditions are set under employment regulation orders (ERO’s) proposed by JLCs for approval by the Labour Court. Unions are concerned about drastic economic measures that could include abolition of ERO’s. They are currently under review but if abolished for example cleaners may see their minimum hourly rate cut from €9.50 to €7.65 -- the new, lowered statutory minimum wage rate (See also this Collective Bargaining Newsletter Year 4 January and February 2011).

English: …,12141,en.html


This article was published in the Collective Bargaining Newsletter. It aims to facilitate information exchange between trade unions and to support the work of ETUC's collective bargaining committee. For more information, please contact the editor Maarten van Klaveren, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS) You may find further information on the ETUI at, and on the AIAS at © ETUI aisbl, Brussels 2011.

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