European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Strikes in Ireland: background summary

Background information

  • There is no right to strike in Ireland. However, if trade unions legally organise industrial action, they are protected from prosecution, as long as the industrial action is lawful.
  • According to the Irish Central Statistics Office, there were nine strikes in 2015, involving a total of 32,964 days lost. This is slightly down from 2014, in which there were 11 strikes, involving 44,015 days lost.
  • According to Eurofound [1], the main causes of reported disputes in Ireland in 2014 were companies cutting costs or implementing redundancies, pay arrears or unpaid wages, disputes over pensions or the retirement age, reorganisation, restructuring or privatisation, and wage demands.
  • A high-profile ruling by the Council of Europe in May 2014 resulted in members of the Irish police winning the right to strike, negotiate on pay and take part in trade union action. Prior to this, members of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) and the Garda Representative Association (GRA) – were restricted from engaging in such activities.
  • Prominent disputes include the recent dispute in the transport sector over pay and other issues at the Dublin light rail tram company Luas. Drivers and other workers went on strike for six days over Easter 2016. The strike ended in June 2016 after drivers voted to accept a pay proposal providing for up to 18% over the coming four years. Further, employees at Dunnes Stores staged a one-day national strike on 2 April 2015 in support of a campaign by trade unions to win more working hours for the firm's workers, improve their job security and pay, and win them the right to trade union representation.

[1] Developments in working life in Europe 2014: EurWORK annual review