The Best Vehicle for Delivering Workers’ ‘Right to Disconnect’ is Collective Bargaining: Congress

7 Aug 2018

Working time is regulated under the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 and places responsibility on employers for ensuring their workers get sufficient time for rest and relaxation, as set out in the Act.

Since the introducing of this Act, advances in smartphone technology is exposing many workers to longer working hours by making them reachable outside of office hours.

Trade unions were central to the success of the 8-hour day movement in the 18th and 19th centuries and they remain central today in safeguarding the length of the working week, preventing excesses and abuse from advances in new technology.

Commenting on a recent Labour Court recommendation which awarded a former Keepak executive €7,500 for breaches of the Act, Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Patricia King said: “this Labour Court recommendation highlights both the importance of clear labour law which provides universal minimum standards and crucially the importance of collective bargaining and trade union organisation”.

She continued: “Workers who enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining have clarity in relation to their working hours and time off based on collective agreements arrived at through negotiations between their union representatives and their employers”.

“With the constant development of new and innovative technology it is essential now that employers continue to engage with their employees through their trade unions in order that we can secure decent pragmatic agreements at company level which honour the rights of workers to adequate time off, in excess of universal legal minimum provisions, whilst also ensuring the continued success of the firm to secure decent jobs” Ms King said.

“It is also important to remember that labour law is the minimum universal standard, whereas collective bargaining leads to collective agreements in organised workplaces creating and maintaining standards in most cases, well in excess of labour law. Workers through collective bargaining will continue to strive for the ceiling and not accept minimum floor based standards provided for in labour legislation,” she concluded.