From Socialist Voice, September 2008

Trade unions

Labour Court sides with union

In a recent decision on a recognition case taken by the IBOA against Electronic Data Services, the Labour Court recommended that EDS recognise the union and begin a pay review for employees.
     The IBOA brought up in the court the fact that some employees, while meeting all their criteria and being considered “valued contributors” in their performance review, had still not received any pay increases in the previous eighteen months. At the time of writing, the IBOA was still awaiting a formal response from EDS.
     This is a positive development, taking into consideration the recent Ryanair case in which an employee committee with no independence or industrial leverage was recognised by the Labour Court as the representative staff body while the union was refused a recognition recommendation.
     It is vital, however, that recognition procedures be strengthened within a legislative framework and that companies cannot just walk away from Labour Court recommendations.
     The general secretary of the IBOA, Larry Broderick, said of the decision: “We welcome the Labour Court’s recommendation, which supports the development of a positive industrial relations environment in which the right of workers to trade union representation is fully recognised by employers.”
     EDS—the brainchild of the notorious right-winger Ross Perot—is a product, supporter and beneficiary of the “outsourcing” era of corporate capitalism and neo-liberalism. With early connections to the state government of Texas, EDS has been closely tied to politics and has received many government and military contracts over the years. With the increasing privatisation of the state and its functionaries by friends of Perot, EDS has grown into a highly profitable corporation.
     EDS is now involved in a multi-billion takeover by the anti-union company Hewlett-Packard. For employees this will mean “restructuring” and “rationalising services”— buzzwords for possible cost-saving and redundancies. In this context the Labour Court recommendation must be welcomed as a breakthrough for EDS workers.
     With the IBOA already recognised for some 250 employees on the Bank of Ireland contract in HP, this will surely strengthen all concerned in the future company of HP and EDS.
     Workers are beginning again to see the need to be organised and active in a union if they wish to secure decent terms and conditions.

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