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ICTU congress backs NUJ stance on freelance rights

4 July 2013

Delegates at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ (ICTU) Biennial Delegate Conference in Belfast strongly supported demands by the NUJ for an amendment to competition law, which acts as a barrier to collective bargaining rights for freelance workers.

Gerry Curran, chair of the Irish Executive Council, told delegates that the Republic of Ireland remains in breach of its international obligations under the ILO Convention because the Competition Authority insists on viewing freelance workers as 'undertakings' rather than workers.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, told delegates that the Competition Authority had given primacy to competition law over employment rights. He also criticised the failure by successive governments to honour commitments made in social partnership agreements.

The Irish Secretary seconded a motion tabled by the Executive Council of Congress, committing the movement to accelerate its campaign for equality and social justice. He told delegates that it was appropriate that Congress should meet during Belfast Pride Week. He said that Belfast was associated with disputes over flags and banners, but for once the city was united under a rainbow flag, celebrating the diversity of the community.

In the elections for the Executive Council, Séamus Dooley was re-elected on the first count. The NUJ is one of the smallest affiliates to the ICTU and the union's general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said:

"The re-election of the Irish Secretary is an honour for the union and recognition by delegates of the work of the NUJ across a wide range of issues."

NUJ delegates attended a breakfast briefing on employment rights given by Professor Keith Ewing, of King's College London, as part of the Congress campaign for collective bargaining rights for all.

Tags: , competition authority, ictu, rights, freelance