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23 January 2020, Dublin, Ireland, at the Communication Workers Union Conference Centre, William Norton House 575 North Circular Road, Dublin 1, D01 TR53.

Reviving economic democracy in Ireland after the crisis

Conference organized by the European Workers’ Participation Competence Centre of the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), in cooperation with the Irish National Worker Directors Group (NWDG).

The crisis of 2008 revealed the excesses of financial capitalism and corporate mismanagement. Many EU Member States felt the dramatic economic and social consequences of deregulation and austerity policies that hollowed out their welfare states.
Ireland was greatly affected. Despite an adversarial industrial relations’ system, based on voluntarism and minimal intervention of the state, Ireland maintains the legal right of workers to be represented on the boards of certain state-owned enterprises. However, this model has suffered from such pressures as privatisation, the shrinking of the public sector and the effect of massive foreign capital investments. Today, not even half of the companies originally covered by the 1977 and 1988 Acts have worker directors, and in those that do, their capacity to influence decisions is generally limited.
This evolution is not a logical one and, it would seem, not in step with the times. Extensive research shows how placing workers’ voice at the core of firms and the economy could be beneficial for society as a whole in this post-crisis moment. At the EU level, rights on board-level employee representation have been integrated into the newly adopted Directive on cross-border conversions, mergers and divisions (which forms part of the ‘Company Law Package’). In other countries, such as the US and France, politicians are showing increasing interest in putting workers on company boards and extending this more democratic model of corporate governance from the public to the private sector. With political will, Ireland could follow these trends.   

The event will address these issues, with the following main goals: 

  • To present empirical and theoretical arguments for democratising the economy and to discuss concrete proposals to democratically renew enterprise models in Ireland and in Europe.  
  • To understand the role employee representation can play in democratising the management of firms and the economy, in light of the current socio-economic and political contexts. 
  • To learn from comparison with the political debates and legislative developments taking place in other countries (namely, the UK, France and the US) concerning workers’ voice in corporate governance and the economy, in order to outline ways forward within the Irish context.

You will find the draft agenda below. Places are limited up to capacity.  

If you would like to attend the event, please register by Monday 13 January 2020 using the following link:  

Reviving economic democracy in Ireland after the crisis

When registering to this event, you are aware and explicitly agree that pictures may be taken during this event and shared in social media with non-commercial purposes by the organizers.  

If you have any query concerning the organization of the meeting, please address it to Marie Ciparisse

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