The Government has approved the preparation of legislation to provide for a
revised legislative framework to replace the Registered Employment
Agreement system, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard
Bruton TD and Minister of State for Business and Employment Gerald Nash TD
announced today (Friday).
The move comes following the judgment by the Supreme Court in McGowan and
others v the Labour Court, Ireland and the Attorney General , which held
that Part III of the Industrial Relations Act 1946 was invalid having
regard to Article 15.2.1 of the Constitution. The effect of this was to
invalidate the registration of employment agreements previously registered
under that piece of legislation.
The new mechanism will allow unions and employers to apply to the Labour
Court to initiate a review of pay/pensions/sick pay terms of workers in a
particular sector and make recommendations to the Minister for the making
of an order in these areas. The new mechanism will also provide for
flexibility in response to changing economic circumstances or changes in
the make-up of a sector.
The new legislation will help provide certainty for employees as well as
for businesses tendering for contracts. It will also help pomote industrial
peace in the crucial construction sector, and establish universal standards
which will help prevent Irish firms being undercut in tendering for
contracts. It will form part of a package of measures aimed at supporting
the development of a sustainable, competitive Irish construction sector and
create jobs in this crucial area.
Speaking today, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard
Bruton TD, said:
“A central part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is supporting the
development of a sustainable, competitive construction sector and creating
jobs in this crucial area. Part of this is providing for a mechanism to
replace the Registered Employment Agreements between staff and employers in
the area. This is an important step in ensuring that businesses have
certainty around wage costs when they tender for contracts. It is a crucial
means of helping to provide for industrial peace, and in ensuring that
irish companies are not put at a disadvantage when tendering for contracts.
“However it is also crucial to ensure that these systems do not become
rigid and inflexible, and do not become an impediment to job-creation in a
fast-changing economic environment. For these reasons we have put in place
a series of new safeguards, to ensure that employer and employee bodies are
substantially representative, to provide for reviews of obligations in
response to changing economic circumstances, and to ensure that they do not
become a factor that causes the collapse of firms in financial difficulty.
“I intend to have the legislation published during the next Dáil session,
with a view to its enactment as soon as possible thereafter. This will be
an important step in developing a sustainable, competitive and jobs-rich
construction sector in the years ahead, which we so badly need”.
Minister of State for Business and Employment, Gerald Nash TD, said:
“REAs provided a practical and successful mechanism for workers and
employers to agree proper sectoral terms and conditions that brought about
wage and industrial relations stability as well as ensuring the maintenance
of industry standards. The striking down of REAs meant that this important
facility was absent. This framework, albeit amended to reflect the Supreme
Court, will mean that local level agreements can be reached and registered
and broader sectoral terms and conditions set that will deliver good terms
and conditions for workers and wage stability and industrial peace for
employers. This is especially important as the economic recovery, so hard
fought for, gathers momentum”.