Last week the European Commission wrote to the Irish government rejecting its assertions that the Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees Act 1996 properly transposed the European Works Council Directive into Irish law. The correspondence between the Irish government and the Commission is confidential so what exactly is being said is not known.
However, from statements made by the government, including replies to Parliamentary questions, its defence appears to be that that legislation is compliant with the Directive because it has never been challenged in court. The complaint from SIPTU, the biggest Irish trade union, to the Commission that began the process was that the legislation was written in such a way that it was impossible for the parties, employers and EWCs, to go to court in the first place to resolve disputes.
It is Catch 22. You must go to court to prove the legislation is deficient, but you cannot go to court to prove the legislation is deficient because the legislation does not allow you to do so. It is understood that the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) Committee on Employment will soon schedule a hearing on this matter.
Separately, BEERG has learned that the Irish Labour Inspectorate has given the Irish multinational, Kingspan, three months to set up a Subsidiary Requirement EWC or else face criminal proceedings. Kingspan had stonewalled on setting up a Special Negotiating Body (SNB) since it received a valid request to do so over three years ago.
EWCs will feature on the agenda for our BEERG June Network Meeting in Sitges, Barcelona.