Ireland failing to meet treaty obligations on workers’ rights

Ireland failing to meet treaty obligations on workers' rights

Sinéad Gibney

Ireland is failing to meet its obligations under a binding human rights treaty to protect the rights of workers, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has said.

In a report to the Council of Europe, the rights body said Ireland has not yet accepted several provisions of the Revised European Social Charter, which Ireland ratified in 2000.

These include the rights of employed mothers to sufficient time of to breastfeed; the rights of workers to be consulted on decisions which affect their employment; the responsibility of the State to ensure access to child day-care services and other childcare arrangements; and the responsibility of the State to promote access to housing of an adequate standard at an accessible price and to prevent and reduce homelessness.

The Commission is also concerned about inadequate protections for employees, discriminatory policies that affect disabled employees, and the prevalence of discrimination and sexual harassment in the Irish labour market, in particular the the failure to acknowledge the social and economic value of care work.

Its report recommends new trade union legislation providing for a statutory right for unions to be recognised in the workplace for collective bargaining purposes and for employees to have a right to make representations to their employer through their union.

It also proposes that Ireland incorporates economic, social and cultural rights into the Constitution to honour fully Ireland’s international commitments.

Chief commissioner Sinéad Gibney said: “Workers’ rights are key to accessing a range of other rights. If you’re low paid, working long hours under pressure, cut off from information about your job security and unable to join a union, this impacts your health, your family, and whether you can afford adequate accommodation or childcare.

“There’s a real value to society and the economy of an organised and robust workforce with access to representation and voice to proactively negotiate with employers.

“No-one should suffer discrimination due to their economic or social situation, yet we see this happen daily throughout the country. It is vital that the State steps up and delivers on its commitments to all people working to earn a living.”

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