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The proposal which was agreed by the Coalition parties obliges companies to negotiate with workers, but not necessarily with trade unions. This is an interesting compromise in the long battle that has been waged on the sticky issue of compulsory trade union recognition by ICTU. Following the Ryanair case which went to the Supreme Court there is a recognition that collective bargaining can follow the less traditional course of employer/union and can involve in house works councils etc. This proposal by the Government cements the view taken by the court in the Ryanair case. It is also formalising what has been long accepted that numerous foreign multinational firms engage with works councils rather than trade unions and that there needs to be provision for this in the collective bargaining system. The move also addresses the apparent inconsistency between our constitutional stand and that set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

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