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Most Shared Most Recent. History Everything you need to know about St. Brigid, Ireland's female patron saint. History Lizzie Borden's Irish maid witnessed her horrific axe murders. The industrial relations system has changed significantly over the past 20 years, with a concentrated period of change since There has been a gradual erosion of voluntarism and collectivism and a growing legalisation of the employment relationship — particularly the growth of individual rights-based employment law in certain areas.

Coming to work in Ireland

The Industrial Relations Amendment Act gave effect to the Programme for Government Commitment to reform legislation on collective bargaining. The definition requires that there be more than consultation or the exchange of information. The purpose of the exercise must be to seek agreement on working conditions and the terms of employment or non-employment.

The Act does not impose any obligation on employers to engage in collective bargaining. However, the Act broadens the circumstances in which workers, whose employers refuse to engage in collective bargaining, can have relevant disputes addressed. In , the first of six tripartite centralised agreements or social pacts were negotiated. These centralised pacts covered not only pay, but a range of social and economic issues. Evaluations of social partnership, before it withdrew, varied from seeing it as contributing to strong economic performance, growing employment, low levels of unemployment, rising real wages and decreasing levels of absolute poverty, to a perception that it increased inequality in wages, and featured high levels of relative poverty and low expenditure on public services compared with other advanced economies.

Since the end of formal social partnership, collective bargaining has taken place at company level in the private sector. The aim of the LEEF is to provide a space to discuss areas of shared concern affecting the economy, employment and the labour market on a thematic basis, such as competitiveness, sustainable job creation, labour market standards and equality and gender issues in the workplace.

However, LEEF does not deal with pay issues. They are interlocking parts in a multilevel system of governance that includes the European, national, sectoral, regional provincial or local and company levels. This section looks into the main actors and institutions and their role in Ireland. The Department of An Taoiseach prime minister was the Government wing of the former tripartite social partnership system — This Department is in charge of all major legislative changes in this area industrial relations laws; dispute resolution state bodies.

It is also tasked with the establishment of the new Low Pay Commission, and is responsible for discussion around the national minimum wage rate. It also negotiated the major public sector stability agreements the Haddington Road Agreement and its successor, The Lansdowne Road Agreement with the public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions with the assistance of the Labour Relations Commission.

The Workplace Relations Commission was established in It enforces occupational health and safety law, promotes accident prevention, and provides information and advice across all sectors. At national level, such as with the bilateral public sector agreement talks, the ICTU is the central negotiating body. ICTU was also one of the tripartite bodies during the formal social partnership era, Trade unions do not have to be affiliated with the ICTU to be a legitimate trade union. It was a tripartite body involved in social partnership — but has not negotiated at national level since national wage agreements stopped it does not represent the employer side in public sector-wide talks, but can represent individual public sector employers, such as universities, in dispute resolution.

Under article There is no automatic right to join a trade union — such may confer obligation on the part of a trade union to accept membership, which itself could be unconstitutional. Trade union members are protected against discrimination under various laws, such as the Unfair Dismissals Act , which makes dismissal for reasons of trade union membership or activity automatically unfair. Some public servants are currently excluded from the ability to form trade unions, and instead form representative associations which entail restrictions around striking.

Union density is a continuing concern for trade unions, at least in terms of leverage power in the workplace. In , a report of the Commission on the Trade Union Movement was published. This report recommended that affiliate unions of ICTU, working in common sectors should cooperate more closely and explore possible amalgamations and mergers, in order to increase their capacity to deliver for members and also their wider impact. In , at the ICTU biennial conference, union realignment was formally adopted with exploratory talks between some unions taking place in There may be further reductions and amalgamations of ICTU affiliated unions in future, delineated according to sectors of work e.

The main employer organisation is Ibec, which lists some 7, companies as members, and has 60 sub-branches specialising in specific sectors. Part of Ibec is the Small Firms Association , which specialises in representing firms employing 50 people or less. The Construction Industry Federation CIF specialises in representing businesses in and associated with the construction industry.

It has around 3, members. It is a lobby group, and does not engage in collective bargaining. Tripartitism is not part of collective bargaining. This has been the case since the end of However, with continued momentum in the Irish economy since though there is less than consensus on how stable the economic environment is in , there is pressure to formulate some form of national system to funnel the increasing wage pressure, as well as other employment-related factors.

Yet, while there is little indication on what form of consensus arrangement there could be in the near future, it is not unlikely that a more coherent bipartite social dialogue system as opposed to a tripartite social partnership model may emerge, if only to deal with employment-related matters outside of pay rises. This Commission is tasked with looking at the major issues around low-paid work and if the national minimum wage merits an increase.

It will comprise of an independent chair; three people representing the interests of low paid workers; three people representing the interests of employers where the NMW is relevant ; and two people from an economics, labour market economics, statistics or employment law background. In , a new Labour Employer Economic Forum LEEF which includes representatives of employers and trade unions with government ministers was established.

In the figure, we see a comparison between Ireland and European Union for the people with 'Establishment size : All' when asked 'Official structure of employee representation present at establishment'. For the 'Yes' answer, Ireland's score is lower than the European Union score. For the 'No' answer, Ireland's score is higher than the European Union score. The National comparisons visualisation presents a comparative overview for the values of all answers between two selected countries.

Collective bargaining The central concern of employment relations is the collective governance of work and employment. This section looks into collective bargaining in Ireland. In the public sector, three major cost reduction agreements — the Croke Park Agreement , the Haddington Road Agreement and the Lansdowne Road Agreement — followed negotiations between the public services committee of ICTU and Government representatives.

However, disregard for collective agreements is consistently and strongly advised against by the Labour Court. Non-adherence to agreement terms could give rise to industrial action or disciplinary measures. The public sector agreements, similarly, are not legally enforceable. However workers have accepted them as preferable to the more severe terms — which are legally enforceable — that apply to those groups of workers who choose to remain outside those agreements.

The less favourable terms are enforced through the financial emergency measures in the public interest FEMPI laws — Wage bargaining coverage in the private sector, though not calculated to a certain degree, would be at a percentage level higher than trade union density, given collective bargaining can be conducted without union involvement.

However, gathering data on non-union company-level bargaining is difficult and a recent, national-level survey of such scope is not in place. Collective bargaining in the private sector is at present mainly at local level. However, the early stages of reformed sectoral bargaining are well under way, following the Ministerial orders to re-establish joint labour committees in early A new Sectoral Employment Order SEO covering rates of pay, sick pay, and pensions across the construction sector was signed into legislation on 19 October , following acceptance by the Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation of a recommendation from the Labour Court.

The SEO places a legally binding floor on rates and obligations in the construction sector throughout the country.

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In other sectors, such as hotels, there is stronger resistance to SEOs. In the public sector, since successive major agreements have provided the national framework for industrial relations for the whole of the public sector: the Croke Park Agreement , the Haddington Road Agreement and the Landsdowne Road Agreements and these are incorporated into one continuing public sector agreement. In the public sector, bargaining for the public sector agreements was conducted at a national level the relevant Government department and the public services committee of the ICTU.

As there are no national wage agreements in force, there are no bargaining rounds in the private sector. Company level agreements cover periods of between one and three years. In the public sector, each national bilateral agreement lasts approximately three years. The newly agreed Lansdowne Road Agreement is in place from This approach is not rigid and depends on other localised factors. Other unions, such as the retail union Mandate, seek the same measures across different employments, namely banded hours arrangements this is where part-time workers can gain access to a greater level of minimum working hours with service.

Ibec and other employer representative bodies continue to provide advice to members in respect of local bargaining. The Act's provisions include:. JLCs no longer set Sunday premium rates. When setting wage rates JLCs will have to take into account factors such as competitiveness and rates of employment and unemployment.

New Employment Regulation Orders in the Security and Contract Cleaning sectors have been established since the legislation was introduced. Under the reformed sectoral wage-setting system, a detailed process is established by which individual employers can seek temporary derogation from the sector-level minimum pay and conditions set by both REAs and EROs, on grounds of financial difficulty. The derogation provisions are identical for both EROs which cover lower-paid sectors and REAs which cover more skilled workers and tend to have higher pay rates.

An exemption is to be for a maximum of 24 months and a minimum of three months, with employers barred from seeking exemptions if they have already been granted an exemption in the case of the same workers in the previous five years. To guard against this, the Bill requires the Labour Court to consider whether the exemption would have an adverse effect on employment levels and distort competition in the sector to the detriment of other employers.

What It's Like Living In Ireland

In addition, the exemption cannot allow an hourly wage which is less than the National Minimum Wage and it must not reduce the pension contributions paid by the employer. There are currently only two EROs in existence so the derogation mechanisms would not be widely used. In practice, generally, terms of a collective agreement continue to apply upon their expiry, in the period between expiry and the start of a new agreement.

Regarding wage bargaining in between pay deals, the parties may agree a pay freeze or a pay pause. During the social partnership era, a number of peace clauses were incorporated within national wage agreements, and many industrial relations observers associated them with relatively high levels of industrial peace. In the public sector, the Public Service Stability Agreements contain industrial peace clauses, including the new Lansdowne Road Agreement LRA , which stipulates that the maintenance of industrial peace is an essential requirement of the Agreement.

Accordingly, all forms of industrial action are precluded in respect of any matters covered by the Agreement, where the employer, trade union or staff association are acting in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement. There is a Lansdowne Road Agreement Oversight Body, which will oversee compliance with industrial peace requirements across sectors, in conjunction with sectoral oversight bodies.

The LRA Oversight Body will be responsible for proactively addressing matters of implementation and interpretation during the term of the Agreement, including:. At local level, some company level collective agreements contain explicit peace clauses. However, they are not very frequent at this decentralised level. In the recent past, there have been a number of collective agreements focusing on reform of company pension schemes. Many schemes have switched from defined benefit to defined contribution. In the retail industry, which is marked by part-time working hours, successful company-union negotiations have resulted in banded hours arrangements.

This requires employees to be guaranteed more weekly working hours, depending on service. It reduces the potential for inconsistency in working hours. Industrial actions and disputes Legal aspects Industrial action is any action taken by a trade union, workers, or by an employer in the course of a dispute.

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For the purpose of national statistics measurement, a strike must meet the following criteria for it to be included in CSO industrial dispute statistics: 1 involve a stoppage of work lasting for at least one day; 2 the total time lost is 10 or more person-days. In the past five years or so, official strike action has been most frequent in the public transport sector, with high profile disputes at tram company LUAS and Bus Eireann.

Overall, however, strike action in Ireland remains at historically low levels in relative terms. The strike then became official and lasted for another three months. High Court injunctions were used to prevent the striking workers from blocking the entrance to the facility. In the past couple of years, unofficial action has been prominent in the public transport sector, at Dublin Bus and Iarnrod Eireann.

Living & working in Ireland

These usually occur where working has already stopped for instance, when the business has ceased trading but where workers involved have not received redundancy compensation or due wages. However, the appeal functions of the EAT have been transferred to the Labour Court , which is now the single appeal body for all workplace relations appeals.

The Conciliation Service helps employers and their employees to resolve disputes when they have failed to reach agreement during their own previous negotiations. An Industrial Relations Officer of the Commission acts as chairperson during meetings to negotiate an agreement. The majority of the cases referred to conciliation are settled. If no agreement is reached then, if the parties wish, the dispute may be referred to the Labour Court.

The Labour Court investigates collective trade disputes under the Industrial Relations Acts, to It can also investigate, at the request of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, trade disputes affecting the public interest, or conduct an enquiry into a trade dispute of special importance and report on its findings.

Mediation is a voluntary process which needs to have both sides agreeing to participate and to work towards resolving the problem. It ensures that all the sides are heard and the participants are involved in finding an agreed solution. The Adjudication Service formerly the Rights Commissioner Service investigates disputes, grievances and claims that individuals or small groups of workers make under the employment legislation listed in Schedule 5 of the Workplace Relations Act. Adjudicators are independent in the performance of their duties and have a wide range of functions under this employment legislation.

Under the Workplace Relations Act , the Labour Court is the single appeal body for all workplace relations appeals, including those previously heard by the Employment Appeals Tribunal. A party may appeal the decision of the adjudicator to the Labour Court. If not, you better be prepared to cough up. I think it's something like 25 cents for a plastic shopping bag these days. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for saving the planet, but that's excessive.

Lastly, and this is true of every grocery store I've been to in Cork , you have to pack your groceries into your bags yourself.


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All-in-all a less enjoyable customer experience, but nothing too bad to handle. Getting a driving license Unfortunately I have learned that my US driver's license will not transfer, and I will need to apply for, and take the test, for a full Irish driver's license. This doesn't sound so bad on its own, but I have also heard that I need to take 12 mandatory driving lessons!


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When I finally go about getting my Irish license I will cover this in more detail on the site. The lack of Starbucks In every major city in America you will find numerous Starbucks coffee shops. That's not the case in Ireland. I'm not really a Starbucks fan myself. I don't dislike their coffee, I just don't see the major attraction of it.

But having seen the queues for Frappe's, Mocha's and Latte's in America, I know many American's will miss having one of these nearby. There are so many local 'mom and pop' style coffee shops around Ireland though, you really won't have to go without your daily fix. Their mugs won't be emblazoned with the Starbucks Siren lady, but their coffee may be better than you've ever had before. That's it for now. And it really wasn't so bad now, was it? I might add to the list as time goes by, but please feel free to do so yourself in the comments below.

Update March 10 I just want to make a quick update to this article to add a link to a very thorough blog post on the same topic over on slaintecork. It's a good read, with a lot of information I can relate to after spending so many years away in the US. I received an email about this article today. Steph, an American living in Ireland, feels very strongly that service strikes should be on the list.

In fact just this week, all second-level students had a day off due a teacher strike. I can also assure anyone interested that if the UK had been put through the ringer that Irish folk have over the past 5 years then the UK would be shut down and locked up to a greater extent than it was in There have been no recent riots here as there have been in France, Greece, Germany, Italy and other EU countries so maybe it not all that bad? But like you say Tony, we have it fairly good here in Ireland. Which does sort of tilt the perspective if someone has only been here a couple of years.