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BEERG Newsletter - EWCs: BEERG testifies before Irish Parliamentary Committee

On Wednesday (June 22nd) Tom Hayes of BEERG and Lisa McKeon EMEA Employee Relations Senior Manager with Oracle Corporation, made an oral presentation to the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment (JCETE) on the need to amend the Irish European Works Council legislation to provide for proper disputes resolution procedures. The JCETE also heard a presentation from the Irish Trade Union SIPTU. 

The BEERG and Siptu presentations (see BEERG presentation text HERE) both highlighted the urgent need for the Irish legislation to be amended speedily and both set out the communications that they separately had with the Irish Department for Enterprise Trade and Employment and asked Committee members to urge the government and the relevant Minister to make the simple, but essential amendments to the Irish legislation.

In response to questions from representatives of the main government and opposition parties, both BEERG and Siptu set out the history to the evolving situation in Ireland post Brexit and both highlighted that the European Commission had already initiated infringement proceedings against Ireland for the lacuna in the Irish law. 

Tom Hayes further pointed out that by implementing the changes which the former chairman of the Irish Labour Court, Kevin Duffy had independently drafted at BEERG’s behest, Ireland could move from being the bad boy of Europe on this issue to be the best-in-class model for others to follow, with a dispute resolution system based primarily on mediation.

In later exchanges Lisa McKeon set out Oracle’s experience of operating its EWC under Irish law and spoke of the practical problems and difficulties posed by the current deficiencies in the Irish law. She also talked Committee members through the operation of a major EWC.  

Some of the opposition members, particularly from the left of centre Sinn Féin and far-left People Before Profit-Solidarity, urged increases in the scale of the fines provided in Irish legislation, saying that the levels decided in 1996 (=€12.5k) should be raised significantly, though they did not suggest specific amounts.   

As the meeting concluded there was broad agreement that the legal deficiencies in the current legislation should be addressed, and it was suggested by committee members that they consider this matter further, including inviting senior officials from the Department for Enterprise Trade and Employment to set out why it had been so slow in updating the Irish law. (See Irish media report here).

Video and transcript of proceedings should be available on Oireachtas committee’s webpage within a week. 

Published on: June 22, 2022

Authors: Derek Mooney

Topics: Employee Relations, The UK and European Union

Derek Mooney

Director of Public Affairs and Internal Communications, BEERG

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