Government can address Lisbon fears through Partnership Talks
10 Sep 2008
A prompt and decisive government intervention in the current partnership talks could help restore faith in the EU, according to Congress General Secretary David Begg.
Speaking after the publication of official research into the Lisbon referendum result, which highlighted protection of workers' rights as a major area of voter concern, Mr Begg said government had an ideal opportunity to address this problem by agreeing new legislation on the issue of collective bargaining and union recognition.
The issue of workers' rights was cited "more than any other issue", by respondents to the research that was carried out for the government. It featured as a major concern among both Yes and No voters.
According to Mr Begg: "The research proves what Congress has stated all along - the protection of workers rights in an enlarged Europe is a key issue for voters in Ireland. That needs to be addressed if faith in the European project is to be restored. People need to be reassured that Europe is not about a race to the bottom.
"The current talks process provides government with the perfect opportunity to address this issue. The Charter of Fundamental Rights that was attached to the Lisbon Treaty enshrines the right to collective bargaining - now is the time to enshrine this provision in Irish law."
Mr Begg referred to a speech he had delivered in the aftermath of the Lisbon referendum, in which he had stated:
"The Charter of Fundamental Rights had at least the potential over time to confer on workers a range of rights that will never be possible under our own constitution. Foremost among them is the right of Trade Unions to be recognised for Collective Bargaining purposes - a right in law uniquely denied to Irish people."*
Mr Begg also pointed out that the research had shown the core of opposition to the Treaty was to be found among both younger voters and working class voters.
*Note to Editors
A full copy of David Begg's speech is available at: