Thursday, 7 February 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Go raibh maith agat, a Teachta. The Deputy's question raises a very significant issue. He is asking for a substantial policy change in relation to unions and industrial relations. I understand the question and am in sympathy with the Deputy's position. However, Údarás na Gaeltachta has confirmed that under current legislation it has no statutory role, contracted or implied, to undertake any role in assisting, intervening or monitoring industrial relations between a private company and its employees or to make any statement in such an instance. The practice of all enterprise agencies is that to undertake such a role and to include conditions regarding union recognition and support grants would not be appropriate.
That is the nub of the answer for now. I understand the Deputy's point which he made with great strength and persuasion, particularly as it relates to his constituency, and the importance of not only creating jobs but quality jobs and the possibilities and ways in which companies can acknowledge or recognise unions that could contribute to higher quality jobs and even better pay and conditions. It is very helpful for the Deputy to raise this issue in the context of the recent report by Údarás na Gaeltachta which, as he noted, is very positive and deals with the many excellent aspects of its work. It is a good time to raise this issue but there is no legal obligation on employers to negotiate with a union on behalf of an employee member unless previously agreed. This does not prevent a dispute about trade union recognition from being a lawful dispute.