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                                      IE0209204S
                                     Tony Dobbins
                                        Ireland
                                         Study
                                          IE1
                                          EN

Questionnaire for EIRO comparative study on collective
bargaining coverage and extension procedures
See the accompanying background document for the definitions of the various terms
used.
Please use the tables provided to present the information, where possible.
Please ensure that you provide the source of all statistics used.

1. Collective Bargaining Coverage
1.1. Please provide available statistics on the following categories for 2000 and 2001 (or,
if not available for the two most recent years available):
the total number of employees covered by any kind of collective agreement (i.e. corrected
    for multi-counting) in your country
the total number of employees excluded from the right to collective bargaining in your
    country.
Note: As regards the public sector, we regard the right to collective bargaining as given,
when legal provisions entitle the public-sector unions to negotiate, regardless of whether
collective agreements require additional approval by government or parliament to
become valid. However, public-sector unions are seen as being excluded from the
bargaining right when being only entitled to give recommendations for regulating the
employment terms (e.g. the Pay Review Bodies in the UK). Again, we refer to formal
arrangements and classify employees as excluded from the right to bargain, if no right to
negotiate exists, regardless of whether informal bargaining between the public-sector
unions and their employer counterpart takes place.

As of 1999, there were 561,800 union members, which, at the time, constituted a
membership density of 44.5% of those in employment. Since 1987, all union members
have been covered by national-level collective agreements, such as the current
partnership agreement, the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF). However, there
are no precise figures on the number of employees covered by local-level collective
agreements in Ireland. It is important to note that the fact that a union is recognised in
Ireland does not necessarily mean that unions engage in collective bargaining, or that
employees are covered by collective bargaining arrangements.

1980 was the peak year for union density in Ireland, with employment density standing at
an historical high of 62%. Significantly, during the recent economic boom in Ireland, the
rate of membership growth has failed to keep track with a very strong rate of employment
growth in new sectors of the economy. Therefore, density levels have decreased as a
proportion of the total number of workers in employment. The downward trend applies to
practically all areas of the private sector, and it is only in the public sector that the level
of unionisation has remained high. Unionisation in the private sector currently stands at
approximately 23%. Unionisation in the public services is in the region of 90%.

the total number of employees in your country

According to the latest data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as of May 2002,
there were 1,749,900 people in employment in Ireland. There has been a significant
increase in the Irish labour force since 1997.

1.2. If it is not possible to provide the above figures, please estimate:
the rate of ACBC (the adjusted rate of collective bargaining coverage)
the rate of UCBC (the unadjusted The rate of collective bargaining coverage)
each for the reference years (i.e. 2000 and 2001 or the two most recent years for which an
estimate can be made).

See above

1.3. Please provide the statistics listed under 1.1, disaggregated by gender

Women constituted 42% of total union membership of 561,800 as of 1999, or just over
four in every ten union members.

1.4. If it is not possible to provide the figures for 1.3, please estimate the rate of ACBC
and UCBC disaggregated by gender

see above

1.5. Please provide the statistics listed under 1.1, disaggregated by white- and blue-collar
workers

Recent growth in union membership has been quite marked amongst unions representing
professional and white-collar workers. The following table provides a breakdown of
white and blue-collar union membership in the Republic of Ireland. The figures are
provided by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).

Union type                   Members No. of unions
General                      212,863 3
Public service               120,447       13
Postal and telecommunic      19,606        2
Electrical, engineering      38,183        2
Construction                 25,181        4
Other industry               5,842         2
Distribution/transport       40,662        6
Professional/white-collar    73,532        11
Others                       623           5
Total                        543,882       48

1.6. If it is not possible to provide the figures for 1.5., please estimate the rate of ACBC
and UCBC disaggregated by white- and blue-collar workers

Table1 (integrating 1.1, 1.3, 1.5) – see point 1.1 above – there are no exact figures on
collective bargaining coverage at local level. Nearly 45% of those in employment are
covered by national level collective agreements.

                                       Total number of employees ...
              covered by any collective excluded from the right    in the country
              agreement                 to coll. Bargaining
On aggre-
gate (1.1)
2000
2001
By gender     female         Male           Female       Male           female          male
(1.3)
2000
2001
By worker     white-collar blue-collar      White-       blue-collar    white-collar blue-collar
(1.5)                                       collar
2000
2001


Table 2 (integrating 1.2, 1.4, 1.6)
                                          Estimated rate of ... (percentage)
                                      ACBC                                 UCBC
On aggregate
(1.2)
2000
2001
By gender (1.4)     Female               Male               female               Male
2000
2001
By worker (1.6)     white-collar         blue-collar        white-collar         blue-collar
2000
2001

1.7. Please provide available statistics on the total number of employees covered by any
kind of collective agreements and on the total number of employees for the reference
years for the following sectors:
agriculture, hunting and forestry, and fishing (i.e. NACE A and B)
mining and quarrying (i.e. NACE C)
manufacturing (i.e. NACE D)
electricity, gas and water supply (i.e. NACE E)
construction (i.e. NACE F)
wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles, motorcyles and personal household
    goods (i.e. NACE G)
hotels and restaurants (i.e. NACE H)
transport, storage and communication (i.e. NACE I)
financial intermediation, real estate, renting and business activities (i.e. NACE J and K)
public administration and defence; compulsory social security (i.e. NACE L)
education, health and social work, other community, social and personal service activities
    (i.e. NACE M, N, and O)

see 1.5 above

1.8. If it is not possible to provide the above figures, please estimate the rate of UCBC
for the reference years and the following sectors:
agriculture, hunting and forestry, and fishing (i.e. NACE A and B)
mining and quarrying (i.e. NACE C)
manufacturing (i.e. NACE D)
electricity, gas and water supply (i.e. NACE E)
construction (i.e. NACE F)
wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles, motorcyles and personal household
    goods (i.e. NACE G)
hotels and restaurants (i.e. NACE H)
transport, storage and communication (i.e. NACE I)
financial intermediation, real estate, renting and business activities (i.e. NACE J and K)
public administration and defence; compulsory social security (i.e. NACE L)
education, health and social work, other community, social and personal service activities
    (i.e. NACE M, N, and O)

Table 3 (integrating 1.7, 1.8)
              Employees covered by        Total number of            Estimated rate of UCBC
              any coll. agreement (1.7)   employees (1.7)            in percent (alternatively)
                                                                     (1.8)
             2000           2001          2000         2001          2000          2001
NACE
A+B
NACE C
NACE D
NACE E
NACE F
NACE G
NACE H
NACE I
NACE J+K
NACE L
NACE
M+N+O

1.9. Please provide available statistics on the total number of employees covered by any
kind of collective agreements and on the total number of employees for the private and
the public sector for the reference years.
Note: the public sector includes all activities directly or indirectly run by the state, except
production of goods for which a market price exists. Hence, state-owned companies are
excluded.

According to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), out of total
employment figure of 1,749,900 in May 2002, there were 157,000 employees in the
health sector, 89,200 in public administration and defence and 110,000 in education.
Total public sector employment is now approximately 390,000. This leaves a figure of
approximately 1,359,900 employed in the private sector.

1.10. If it is not possible to provide the figures listed under 1.9, please estimate the rate of
UCBC for the private and the public sector for the reference years

Table 4 (integrating 1.9, 1.10)
              Employees covered by      Total number of                  Estimated rate of UCBC
              any coll. agreement (1.9) employees (1.9)                  in percent (alternatively)
                                                                         (1.10)
              2000           2001           2000          2001           2000           2001
Private
sector
Public
sector

1.11. Please provide available statistics on the total number of employees covered by any
kind of collective agreements and on the total number of employees for the private
sector, disaggregated by the following bargaining levels ( reference years):
multi-employer agreements (i.e. interindustry agreements, occupational agreements,
    industry-level and regional agreements)
single-employer collective agreements ( i.e. agreements for one certain company, plant or
    subdivisions of companies and plants)
Note: Each of the two categories should include employees under both a single- and
multi-employer agreement.
1.12. If it is not possible to provide the figures listed under 1.11, please estimate the rate
of UCBC for the two bargaining levels (reference years).

Table 5 – Private Sector (integrating 1.11, 1.12)
              Employees covered by       Total number of               Estimated rate of UCBC in
              any coll. agreement        employees (1.11)              percent (alternatively)
              (1.11)                                                   (1.12)
By            multi-        Single-                                    multi-          single-
bargaining employer         employer                                   employer        employer
level         agreements agreements                                    agreements      agreements
2000
2001

1.13. If possible, please disaggregate the coverage rate of multi-employer bargaining by:
intersectoral agreements
sectoral/branch agreements
occupational agreements
national agreements
regional/provincial agreements
single-employer agreements
Note: reference years (2000, 2001); intersectoral, sectoral/branch agreements, and
occupational agreements include both national and regional/provincial agreements; due to
multi-level bargaining the aggregate coverage rate of all categories may exceed the
coverage rate according to 1.1/1.2.

See above

1.14. Please provide available statistics on the total number of employees covered by any
kind of collective agreements and on the total number of employees for the private
sector, disaggregated by firm size (i.e. size by number of employees, classification of
firm size according to the national definition) ( reference years).

No info

1.15. If it is not possible to provide the figures listed under 1.13, please estimate the rate
of UCBC by firm size (reference years).

1.16. Do collective agreements include groups other than employees (e.g. self-employed
persons) ? If yes, estimate their coverage rate (ratio of covered persons to the total
number of members of this group).

No info

1.17. Do collective agreements, to a notable degree of incidence, explicitly exclude
certain categories of employees (e.g. foreign workers) or certain categories of non-
standard work (e.g. temporary agency workers, tele workers, fixed term employees, and
part-time workers) from their purview ?

No, local collective agreements do not explicitly exclude such workers. However, it is a
fact that so-called ‘atypical’ groups of workers – such as fixed-term contract workers,
temporary agency workers, etc – are less likely to be covered by collective agreements.

1.18. Has the aggregate level of ACBC and/or UCBC significantly increased/decreased
since 1990 ? If yes, what are the possible reasons for this ?

see above on trade union density. Although union membership has increased in recent
years, employment density levels have decreased as union membership has failed to keep
pace with strong employment growth during the recent economic boom. Thus, it is
reasonable to assume that the overall coverage of collective bargaining may have
decreased slightly.

1.19. Has CBC been a major issue of debates among the social partners and the
government during the last years ? If yes, for what reason ?

Yes. The issue of collective bargaining coverage and trade union recognition has been a
major issue of debate in Ireland in recent years. Irish unions feel that the difficulty
experienced in gaining recognition from recalcitrant employers is a key factor
contributing to this decline in density. These difficulties prompted the unions to seek a
new procedure designed to promote recognition for collective bargaining purposes.
It was this against this backdrop that the High Level Group on Trade Union Recognition
was established under Partnership 2000 to examine union recognition, and it issued its
recommendations in 1999. However, Ireland opted to retain a largely voluntarist system,
which basically involved giving existing third party institutions – the LRC and the
Labour Court – greater powers to resolve recognition disputes. Crucially, the new
procedures do not provide for full-blown formal recognition for collective bargaining
purposes. Rather, employers may only be compelled to concede individual representation
rights over pay and terms and conditions. There are some signs that unions here are
becoming frustrated with the time it takes to secure results from the current procedures –
successful or otherwise. Therefore, the unions are likely to push for changes, to make it
easier to secure workplace representation rights. However, employers and the
Government are most unlikely to agree to a statutory mechanism promoting formal
recognition for collective bargaining purposes.


2. Extension procedures
2.1. Please give an overview of the types of legally-based extension procedures existing
in your country. When doing so, observe the following structure:
extension procedures in the narrow sense referring to the employees
enlargement procedures
For each of these categories, please clarify the following points:
the law on which the procedure is based
the way in which the procedure comes into operation. In principle, the procedure may
    take effect ex lege (i.e. by automatic operation) or at the request of one or both
    bargaining parties in that they have to apply for extension. If the procedure is based
    on application, what body decides on this matter ?
Are there special preconditions to which the application of the procedure is tied ? If these
    preconditions are given, is the decision-making body obliged to extend the collective
    agreement ?
Do these procedures apply to both the private and the public sector ?

In contrast to some other European countries, Ireland does not have any widespread
procedures for the extension of collective agreements, at whatever level, to cover parties
who were not originally signatories to the agreement. However certain procedures for the
extension of agreements and the imposition of binding terms and conditions of
employment do exist. First, there are Registered Employment Agreements (REAs),
whereby the parties to an agreement can register it with the Labour Court, and, depending
on the nature of the agreement in question, the effect of such registration may be to make
the agreement binding on non-signatories. In addition, Joint Labour Committees (JLCs)
set minimum rates of pay and terms and conditions of employment for workers in certain
low-paying sectors. Both of these systems are outlined briefly below.

The Industrial Relations Acts 1946 to 1990 provide for the extension of collective
agreements to non-signatories through the Registered Employment Agreement (REA)
system. Agreements that can be made binding include those covering a sector or region
(public agreements) and single enterprises (private agreements). The Labour Court will
register an agreement if certain conditions are met, one of which is that the parties to the
agreement are substantially representative of the workers and employers to whom the
agreement is expressed to apply. The effect of registration is to make the agreement
legally binding on every worker of the class, type or group to which it is stated to apply
and to his employer, even if such worker or employer is not a party to the agreement.

Minimum wages and other conditions of employment can be set in this fashion, although
there has been an unwillingness to use the REA mechanism to set minimum wages and
conditions of employment. The possibility to register an agreement offered by the
legislation has been little used in practice, and cannot be said to have had a significant
impact on the terms and conditions of workers throughout the economy. At present there
is only one "live" private REA and five public REAs, which cover two sectors on a
national basis, and two sectors in the Dublin area only.

Joint Labour Committees (JLCs) are bodies established under the Industrial Relations
Act, 1946 to provide machinery for fixing statutory minimum rates of pay and conditions
of employment in various sectors. They may be established by the Labour Court on the
application of:

(i)    the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, or
(ii)   a trade union, or
(iii)  any organisation claiming to be representative of the workers or the employers
       involved.
A JLC is made up of equal numbers of employer and worker representative appointed by
the Labour Court and a chairman and substitute chairman appointed by the Minister for
Enterprise, Trade and Employment. JLCs operate in areas where collective bargaining is
not well established and wages tend to be low.

The function of a JLC is to draw up proposals for fixing minimum rates of pay and
conditions of employment for the workers involved. When proposals submitted by a JLC
are confirmed by the Labour Court, in the form of an Employment Regulation Order
(ERO), they become the statutory minimum pay and conditions of employment for the
workers concerned. Employers are then bound under penalty to pay wage rates and
provide conditions of employment not less favourable than those prescribed.

An employer of workers to whom an Employment Regulation Order applies must keep
records of wages, payments, and so on, and must retain these records for three years. The
employer must also put up a prescribed notice in the place of employment setting out
particulars of the statutory rates of pay and conditions of employment.

Employment Regulation Orders are enforced by the Labour Inspectors of the Department
of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. These inspectors have the power to enter
premises, inspect wage sheets and other records, interview the employers and workers
concerned, recover arrears and, if necessary, take legal proceedings against an employer
who is in breach of an ERO.

At present, there are sixteen Joint Labour Committees covering the following activities:

   Aerated Waters and Wholesale Bottling
   Agricultural Workers
   Brush and Broom
   Catering (excluding Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire)
   Catering (Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire)
   Contract Cleaning (City and County of Dublin)
   Hairdressing (Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire and Bray)
   Hairdressing (Cork City)
   Handkerchief and Household Piece Goods
   Hotels (excluding Cork City, Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire)
   Law Clerks
   Provender Milling
   Retail, Grocery and Allied Trades
   Shirt making
   Tailoring
   Women's Clothing and Millinery

In terms of the effectiveness of these extension procedures, while the JLC system is
targeted at the low paid, there has been an unwillingness to use the REA mechanism to
set minimum wages and conditions of employment. In 1997, the JLC and REA systems
provided minimum wage protection to an estimated 242,000 employees, or 23% of all
employees.

Significant problems in the operation of the JLC and REA systems have been identified
which help to explain both the limited coverage of these structures and also their relative
ineffectiveness in combating low pay and regulating the terms and conditions of
employment in the sectors/activities which they purport to cover.

It has been suggested that the unpopularity of the REA system is linked to the detailed
requirements that have to be satisfied before registration, with this problem being
particularly marked for public agreements. Similarly, the JLC system has been found to
have a high level of complexity. It has been suggested that the legalistic and narrow
fashion in which the EROs apply undermines the general effectiveness of JLCs. The
report of the National Minimum Wage Commission (1998) shows that one of the
consequences of this is that all workers within a particular sector or activity may not be
covered by the terms of an ERO.

The introduction by the Government of a National Minimum Wage in April 2000 has had
an impact on the Joint Labour Committee system. Prior to the introduction of the
minimum wage, many employees protected under the JLC system failed to receive the
minimum rates specified, with greater enforcement being needed. A problem with the
JLC system is that, in many cases, the rates specified as minimum wage rates are low,
therefore limiting the potential of the system to act as an obstacle to competition based on
low pay and conditions. A significant number of the pay rates specified by the various
JLCs were below the then national minimum wage rate of £4.40 per hour (€5.59). This
minimum wage rate represented approximately 56 per cent of median earnings in 2000.

The Minimum Wage Commission published a Final Report in May 1999, prior to the
introduction of the National Minimum Wage in April 2000. In regard to the existing Joint
Labour Committees, the Commission made the following recommendation:

       ‘The Commission is not recommending changes to the JLC system and suggests
       that they continue to set rates and conditions of employment for the sectors
       covered by the Committees. However, the Commission considers that a radical
       assessment of the role and function of the JLC system will have to take place in
       the light of the Commission’s recommendation to introduce a national minimum
       wage. Clearly the wage setting function will be overtaken in instances where the
       JLC rate is less than the floor of the national minimum rate’.

2.2. Are there any legally established arrangements that can be regarded as functional
equivalents to extension (e.g. compulsory membership in the unions or employer
associations; legal provisions requiring government contractors to comply with the terms
of employment as determined by the corresponding collective agreement) ?

no
2.3. Have there been changes in the legal framework for extension since 1990 ? If yes,
please summarize these changes and the reasons for change.

Yes, a statutory national minimum wage was introduced in April 2000, which sets a
uniform higher minimum pay floor than applies in many of the sectoral JLCs.

2.4. Please provide available statistics on the total number of employees covered
exclusively by any kind of extension. Put otherwise, this figure records the total number
of employees to whom collective agreements were extended (reference years).

There exists little information regarding the coverage of extension devices such as JLCs
and REAs. The National Minimum Wage Commission (1998) estimated that 242,000
workers were covered by these systems in 1997. In addition, the Labour Relations
Commission (1992) has identified 83,000 workers as being covered by Joint Industrial
Councils, which are voluntary negotiating bodies whose task is to facilitate collective
bargaining in certain industrial sectors.

As outlined above, the introduction of the National Minimum Wage in April 2000 had
implications for the Joint Labour Committee system. As yet however, there is little
evidence of the JLC and REA extension structures altering dramatically.

2.5. If it is not possible to provide the figures listed under 2.4, please estimate the number
of employees exclusively covered by any kind of extension, understood as a percentage
of the total number of employees covered (reference years).

2.6. Please provide available statistics on the total number of private-sector employees
covered exclusively by any kind of extension (reference years).

No info

2.7. If it is not possible to provide the figures listed under 2.6, please estimate the number
of private-sector employees exclusively covered by any kind of extension, understood as
a percentage of the total number of private-sector employees covered (reference years).

No info

Table 6 (integrating 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7)
                                              2000                              2001
Total number of employees
exclusively covered by
extension (2.4)
Estimated percentage
(alternatively) (2.5)
Total number of employees in
the private-sector exclusively
covered by extension (2.6)
Estimated percentage
(alternatively) (2.7)

2.8. Please delineate the attitude of the social partners and the government with regard to
extension procedures. Has extension been a subject of public debates during the last years
? In countries where extension provisions do not exist, have there been any demands for/
debates about the introduction of such provisions ?

There has been some debate among the social partners as to the relevance of Joint Labour
Committees (JLCs) now that a statutory national minimum wage is in place.

In the Final Report of the National Minimum Wage Commission (NMWC), the Irish
Congress of Trade Unions stated that it saw no conflict between the existence of a
national minimum wage and the continuation of Joint Labour Committees, as the JLCs
had functions to discharge in addition to dealing with minimum pay. In the view of the
ICTU, JLC’s deal with particular concerns of specific sectors and their interaction with
the national minimum wage would only overlap in respect of minimum pay rates. The
ICTU believes that a structure is needed to continue looking at sectoral issues, including
wage rates above the national minimum wage, and that the JLCs were the appropriate
bodies for this. The ICTU accepted that the current range of JLCs reflects the historic
structure of the economy and is open to revisiting this issue to reflect current realities.

The Irish Business and Employer Confederation’s (IBEC) view is that the functions of
Joint Labour Committees should be reduced significantly, if not abolished altogether,
with the introduction of the national minimum wage. IBEC states that the major function
of JLCs relates to wage setting, and that in a national minimum wage environment, this is
virtually redundant.

Other employer and trade associations had mixed views with regard to the JLC system in
a national minimum wage environment. The Irish Retail Newsagents Association
expressed concern that the JLC would continue to have a wage setting function following
the introduction of a national minimum wage. The Association considered that there
would be pressure within the JLC for the retail sector to restore pay differentials. The
Irish Clothing Manufacturers Federation did not favour the retention of the JLC system in
a national minimum wage environment. The Irish Hotels Federation saw no need for the
continuance of the JLC system with a minimum wage in place. However, the Irish
Farmers Association favoured the retention of the JLC structure.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises association (ISME) stated that it wanted the JLC
system to be retained subject to a change in its decision-making procedure. ISME is not a
signatory to national partnership agreements, but has long fought for the right to be
involved in the negotiations.
3. Commentary by the NC
As of 1999, there were 561,800 union members in the Republic of Ireland, which, at the
time, constituted a membership density of 44.5% of those in employment. Significantly,
during the recent economic boom, the rate of membership growth has failed to keep track
with a very strong rate of employment growth. Therefore, union density levels, and
collective bargaining coverage, have decreased as a proportion of the total number of
workers in employment. Importantly, the fact that a union is recognised in Ireland, does
not necessarily mean that collective bargaining takes place, although this is usually the
case.

The issue of collective bargaining coverage and trade union recognition has been a major
issue of debate in Ireland in recent years. Irish unions feel that the difficulty experienced
in gaining recognition from recalcitrant employers is a key factor contributing to a
decline in density. These difficulties prompted the unions to seek a new procedure
designed to promote recognition for collective bargaining purposes, although they faced
opposition from employers. The unions are becoming frustrated with the time it takes to
secure results from the compromise procedures introduced during the last two years or so.
Therefore, the unions are likely to push for some changes to make it easier to secure
workplace representation rights. However, employers and the Government are most
unlikely to agree to a statutory mechanism promoting full-blown recognition for
collective bargaining purposes.

In contrast to some other European countries, Ireland does not have any widespread
procedures for the extension of collective agreements, at whatever level, to cover parties
who were not originally signatories to the agreement. However certain procedures for the
extension of agreements and the imposition of binding terms and conditions of
employment do exist. First, there are Registered Employment Agreements (REAs),
whereby the parties to an agreement can register it with the Labour Court and, depending
on the nature of the agreement in question, the effect of such registration may be to make
the agreement binding on non-signatories. In addition, Joint Labour Committees (JLCs)
set minimum rates of pay and terms and conditions of employment for workers in certain
low-paying sectors.

				
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