REAs were first introduced under the Industrial Relations Act 1946. Part III of that Act makes provision for employment agreements to be registered with the Labour Court (“the Court”) provided certain criteria are satisfied. These agreements are entered into between trade unions, representing employees, and employers who are substantially representative of a particular industry. Once registered, the agreement becomes a legally enforceable statement of minimum rates of pay and/or conditions of employment that is binding on every worker and his or her employer of the type, class or group to which the REA applies, regardless of whether the worker and his/her employer are parties to the agreement.On the Morgan McManus website we provide a summary of various challenges which have been made to the Registered Employment Agreements.
One such case was where the Labour Court was requested to consider the application of the various applicant companies to vary the employment agreement for the electrical contracting industry. Various companies, such as NECI and the Unaligned Group of named Electrical Contractors were requesting the Labour Court to cancel the registration of the latest agreement. The Labour Court decided against cancellation of the registration of the agreement.
The Labour Court Decision was appealed to the High Court where it was heard by Mr Justice Hedigan who delivered his Decision on the 30th June 2010. Mr Justice Hedigan refused to overrule the Decision of the Labour Court, pointing out in particular that the High Court should be slow to interfere with Decisions of the Labour Court and that there had been delay on the part of the Applicants in bringing the Proceedings.
This Decision was appealed to the Supreme Court and was heard by the Supreme Court on the 18th December 2012. I have pasted the report of the Hearing given by NECI on its website. The Supreme Court`s Decision will be awaited by many, in particular those employers in the Construction and Electrical Industry, who believe that they should be allowed to negotiate wages with their own employees. In the current economic climate in Ireland where all businesses are being encourages to cut costs it is remarkable that employers must pay rates which are uneconomical.