Ireland - Ministers clash over impact of JLC reform - June 29, 2011

Senior ministers from the Fine Gael and Labour parties have clashed over the impact of proposed changes to the joint labour committee (JLC) system, under which pay and conditions for low-paid are set through employment regulation orders (ERO’s) proposed by JLC’s. According to the bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the EU this system should be changed, but the method to do this and its impact has been a source of division between the coalition parties. Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton brought his proposals to cabinet on 28 June, insisting changes to rules governing overtime and Sunday pay would lead to a reduction in the welfare bill. Labour ministers believe such reform could lead to pressure on the social welfare bill by pushing more families into the poverty line. Moreover, a coalition of unions and social justice groups has exerted pressure on Minister Bruton, calling on him to release the economic logic of his proposals. Following lengthy discussions, ministers failed to reach agreement on the proposals, which will be discussed again in July. The unions have made their position quite clear. Jack O’Connor, president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) confederation, said in a statement: “The Cabinet should not waste time working out ways to crucify the lowest-paid 20% of the workforce through further cutting their pay. Reducing basic wages and employment rights will make no contribution to job creation, as the Government’s own independently commissioned Duffy-Walsh report has established” (See also this Collective Bargaining Newsletter Year 4 January, February, March and May 2011).

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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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