Today (7 October) marks the 13th World Day for Decent Work (#wddw20).
Decent work must be at the centre of government actions to bring back economic growth and build a new global economy that puts people first.
Central to the struggle for decent work is the effective realisation of the right to collective bargaining - a key means whereby employers and trade unions can establish fair wages and working conditions and provide the basis for sound labour relations – something still denied to workers here in Ireland.
Ireland has one of the highest levels of low pay in the EU, ranking 8th out of 27 countries. One in five workers are deemed to be low paid, i.e. earning less than 60% of the median wage. Low-pay levels have remained steady over the last two decades and are outlined in some details with the publication of today’s ‘Low Pay Republic’ pamphlet by SIPTU.
By contrast, countries with a strong collective bargaining tradition reap the benefits of this through contributing to improvements in wages and working conditions, reducing inequality, and facilitating the adaptability of enterprises and economies during an economic crisis.
Congress strongly supports the Draft EU Directive on Fair Wages which could transform the landscape for collective bargaining in Ireland in favour of workers. The proposal to require the Government to ensure a minimum level of collective bargaining coverage across the economy is particularly important. Work on this topic by the High Level Group through the Labour Employer Economic Forum could also make a significant contribution.
If we are to achieve Goal 8 of the sustainable development goals and provide decent work for all – we in Ireland must grasp these opportunities to finally introduce a mature industrial relations system that will also ensure that nobody is left behind..