Ireland: Representativeness of the European social partner organisations – Personal services sector

  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 20 Styczeń 2010



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The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the personal services sector in Ireland. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

Introduction

This study examines the representativeness of trade unions and employer associations in the personal services sector (hairdressers and beauticians) in Ireland as of June 2008. It is concluded that density levels of both unions and employer associations is very low, as is collective bargaining coverage.

1. Sectoral properties

  1995 2006**
Number of employers   3,145 (2002 data) in hairdressing and beauty sector
Aggregate employment*   21,000 employed in NACE 93.2 in 2007, as follows: 18,500 in hairdressing and 2,500 in beauticians occupations.
Male employment*    
Female employment*   No data, but vast majority of employment in NACE 93.2 are female.
Aggregate employees   21,000
Male employees    
Female employees   No data, but vast majority of employees in NACE 93.2 are female.
Aggregate sectoral employment as a % of total employment in the economy   1%
Aggregate sectoral employees as a % of the total number of employees in the economy   1%

* employees plus self-employed persons and agency workers

** or most recent data

2. The sector’s trade unions and employer associations

This section includes the following trade unions and employer associations:

1. trade unions which are party to sector-related collective bargaining (In line with the conceptual remarks outlined in the accompanying briefing note, we understand sector-related collective bargaining as any kind of collective bargaining within the sector, i.e. single-employer bargaining as well as multi-employer bargaining. For the definition of single- and multi-employer bargaining, see 4.2)

2. trade unions which are a member of the sector-related European Union Federation (i.e. UNI-EUROPA – Hair and Beauty)

3. employer associations which are a party to sector-related collective bargaining

4. employer associations (business associations) which are a member of the sector-related European Business Federation (i.e. COIFFURE EU)

2a Data on the trade unions

Union density in the hairdressing and beauty sector in Ireland is extremely low. The main union representing workers in Ireland in this sector is the large general union UNITE, with some members also in the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU), which is Ireland’s largest union, and is also a general union. The Independent Workers Union (IWU) also has some members.2a.1 Type of membership (voluntary vs. compulsory)

Voluntary

2a.2 Formal demarcation of membership domain (e.g. white-collar workers, private-sector workers, personal services employees, etc.)

  • UNITE is a general union representing a wide range of grades, mainly in the private sector. Specifically in relation to the hairdressing and beauty sector, it represents a number of hairdressers.
  • SIPTU is also a general union representing a wide range of grades, mainly in the private sector. Specifically in relation to the hairdressing and beauty sector, it represents a small number of beauticians and hairdressers.
  • The Independent Workers Union (IWU) is a new union established in 2004, is a small general union, which is trying to recruit hairdressers, among other categories of worker.

2a.3 Number of union members (i.e. the total number of members of the union as a whole)

  • UNITE: approximately 50,000 members in the Republic of Ireland (over 1 million total in the UK and the Republic of Ireland).
  • SIPTU: 225,000 members.
  • IWU: 1,500

2a.4 Number of union members in the sector

  • UNITE: 90 (E)
  • SIPTU: approximately 40 (E)
  • IWU: 10 (E)

2a.5 Female union members as a percentage of total union membership

No data

2a.6 Domain density: total number of members of the union in relation to the number of potential members as demarcated by the union domain (see 2a.2)

No data

2a.7 Sectoral density: total number of members of the union in the sector in relation to the number of employees in the sector, as demarcated by the NACE definition

Total employees = 21,000 (E)

  • UNITE: 90 (E)
  • SIPTU: approximately 40 (E)
  • IWU: 10 (E)

Sectoral density: 0.66%.

On this basis, density for each union with regard to the sector is as follows:

UNITE: 0.43%

SIPTU: ).19%

IWU = 0.004%

2a.8 Sectoral domain density: total number of members of the union in the sector in relation to the number of employees which work in that part of the sector as covered by the union domain

No data.

2a.9 Does the union conclude collective agreements?

Yes, UNITE and SIPTU conclude collective agreements with employers. The approach of the IWU is more complex. The IWU is entitled to conclude collective agreements with employers, but does not always seek formal union recognition agreements, because:

‘As far as the IWU is concerned, we do not want to sign agreements with employers, which says that this company or that company agrees to talk to us as the representative of the workers. We don’t see a necessity for such, because if companies don’t talk to us, we will respond by withdrawing our labour’.

2a.10 For each association, list their affiliation to higher-level national, European and international interest associations (including cross-sectoral associations)

According to UNI, no Irish unions are affiliated at European sectoral level to UNI-Europa – hair and beauty section. SIPTU and UNITE are overall UNI affiliates, but not for hair and beauty sector.

More generally, both SIPTU and UNITE are also affiliated at national level to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and to the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

IWU is not affiliated to ICTU or other higher level union associations.

2b Data on the employer associations

There are four main employer associations representing companies in the hairdressing and beauty sector in Ireland, as follows.

  • .The Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC). Ireland’s largest employers association represents some firms in NACE 93.02.
  • IBEC has a specific small firms representative body, the Small Firms Association (SFA), affiliated to it, which represents firms in NACE 93.02.
  • The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME).
  • The Irish Hairdressers Federation (IHF).

The largest employer in the hairdressing and beauty sector in Ireland is Peter Mark, which employs over 700 staff.

2b.1 Type of membership (voluntary vs. compulsory)

Voluntary

2b.2 Formal demarcation of membership domain (e.g. SMEs, small-scale crafts/industry, personal services enterprises, etc.)

IBEC: membership domain covers (mainly larger firms) most sectors, including hairdressing and beauty.

SFA: small firms

ISME:small and medium sized enterprises

Irish Hairdressers Federation: hairdressers

2b.3 Number of member companies (i.e. the total number of members of the association as a whole)

  • IBEC provides a wide range of services to over 7,500 member businesses and organisations from all sectors and of all sizes across Ireland. It is the umbrella body for Ireland’s leading industry groups and associations and is the national voice of Irish business and employers.
  • The SFA claims to represent over 8,000 small firms
  • ISME represents approximately 5,500 firms
  • Irish Hairdressers Federation represents 397 firms

2b.4 Number of member companies in the sector

  • IBEC: 7 (E; 2002)
  • SFA: 5 (E; 2002)
  • ISME: less than 10 (E; 2002)
  • Irish Hairdressers Federation: 397 (2008 latest figure on IHF website)

2b.5 Number of employees working in member companies (i.e. the total number of the association as a whole)

No data.

2b.6 Number of employees working in member companies in the sector

No data

2b.7 Domain density in terms of companies: total number of member companies of the association in relation to the number of potential member companies as demarcated by the association’s domain (see 2b.2)

No data

2b.8 Sectoral density in terms of companies: total number of member companies of the association in the sector in relation to the number of companies in the sector, as demarcated by the NACE definition

As with trade unions, employer association density in the hairdressing and beauty sector is very low.

  • IBEC: seven out of 3,145 (but members include larger hairdressing companies).
  • SFA: five out of 3,145
  • ISME: about 10 out of 3,145
  • IHF: 397 out of 3,145 = 12.6%

2b.9 Sectoral domain density in terms of companies: total number of member companies of the association in the sector in relation to the number of companies which operate in that part of the sector as covered by the association’s domain

No data.

2b.10 Domain density in terms of employees represented: total number of employees working in the association’s member companies in relation to the number of employees working in potential member companies, as demarcated by the association’s domain (see 2b.2).No data.2b.11 Sectoral density in terms of employees represented: total number of employees working in the association’s member companies in the sector in relation to the number of employees in the sector, as demarcated by the NACE definition

No data.

2b.12 Sectoral domain density in terms of employees represented: total number of employees working in the association’s member companies in the sector in relation to the number of employees working in companies which operate in that part of the sector as covered by the association’s domain

No data

2b.13 Does the employer association conclude collective agreements?

  • Only IBEC and its SFA affiliate do so. IBEC concludes collective agreements, both at local level with the trade unions above, and at national level with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) under Ireland’s social partnership agreements. There is no sectoral bargaining.
  • The SFA represents its members in national level collective bargaining through the social partnership pacts. It does not engage in collective bargaining at local or sectoral level, but provides industrial relations advice.
  • ISME does not engage in collective bargaining, and is excluded from national agreements, though it has sought to become part of the process. ISME blames IBEC, and big business in general, for opposing its inclusion in social partnership negotiations.
  • The Irish Hairdressers Federation does not conclude collective agreements, but advises affiliates on employment relations and pay issues.

2b.14 For each association, list their affiliation to higher-level national, European and international interest associations (including the cross-sectoral associations).

  • IBEC is affiliated to the European employer body UNICE. Also, through its Brussels office, the Irish Business Bureau (IBB), IBEC works on behalf of business and employers at European level to ensure that European policy is compatible with its own objectives for the development of the Irish economy.
  • The SFA is affiliated to IBEC at national level, but has independent status. At European level, it is affiliated to both UEAPME and UNICE (through its affiliation with IBEC at national level).
  • ISME is affiliated to UEAPME.
  • The Irish Hairdressers Federation is affiliated to the CIC-Europe (Coiffure EU).

3. Inter-associational relationships

3.1. Please list all trade unions covered by this study whose domains overlap.

To some extent, the domains of UNITE, SIPTU and IWU overlap – including in the hairdressing and beauty sector - because they are both ‘catch-all’ general unions (although the IWU is much smaller than the other two). However, this has not really been an issue in the hairdressing and beauty sector, where union density is very low.

3.2. Do rivalries and competition exist among the trade unions, concerning the right to conclude collective agreements and to be consulted in public policy formulation and implementation?

Yes. The Independent Workers Union (IWU) is not affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and so does not enjoy the same access as SIPTU and UNITE to consultation over public policy formulation and implementation. In addition, the IWU has been pushing a controversial position on inter-union transfers of members.

The union intends staying out of ICTU, partly because of its strict membership transfer rules. In a statement the IWU commented: ‘We choose to be outside this very undemocratic process and while we do not see it as our business to be poaching membership from other unions, we will say that if you feel that a transfer is your only way forward, well you will find us accommodating as we are not shackled by feudal rules’. While the union is small and lacking in resources, it does pose a potential threat to the rest of the union movement in that small groups of militant members in other unions, who may be aggrieved for one reason or another with their own leadership, may be tempted to transfer over. If a number of such groups were to do so, this small union could end up having an influence far beyond its numbers, especially if it was happy to sanction industrial action whenever its members wanted.

3.3. If yes, are certain trade unions excluded from these rights?3.4. Same question for employer associations as 3.1.

The domains of the SFA (IBEC) and ISME clearly overlap.

3.5. Same question for employer associations as 3.2.

In 1994, some of the members of the SFA (which is incorporated into the IBEC structure) formed a separate employers association, ISME, as a result of their disenchantment with IBEC. As a result, ISME and the SFA have been in direct competition for members.

In addition, ISME would argue that IBEC has blocked its attempts to participate in national social partnership pacts. IBEC has not been very enthusiastic about sharing the negotiation platform with other business groupings. Therefore, while the SFA automatically has a place in the national bargaining process as part of IBEC, the same does not apply to its rival ISME. ISME was offered a secondary role in the process, which it refused. ISME has periodically continued to intensively lobby for a more influential role.

ISME is also concerned that it does not have adequate representation at a European level. IBEC (and UNICE) have been opposed to UEAPME’s (and thus ISME’s) attempt to acquire full representation rights in the European social dialogue negotiations. In contrast, the SFA is better equipped to participate in social dialogue at European level through its affiliation with IBEC.

3.6. Same question for employer associations as 3.3.3.7. Are there large companies or employer associations which refuse to recognise the trade unions and refuse to enter collective bargaining?Most firms, including large firms, in the hairdressing and beauty sector refuse to recognise unions or enter collective bargaining, or have not been approached by unions.

4. The system of collective bargaining

4.1. Estimate the sector’s rate of collective bargaining coverage (i.e. the ratio of the number of employees covered by any kind of collective agreement to the total number of employees in the sector).There is no data, but it is safe to say that collective bargaining coverage in this sector is very low indeed.4.2. Estimate the relative importance of multi-employer agreements and of single-employer agreements as a percentage of the total number of employees covered. (Multi-employer bargaining is defined as being conducted by an employer association on behalf of the employer side. In the case of single-employer bargaining, it is the company or its subunit(s) which is the party to the agreement. This includes the cases where two or more companies jointly negotiate an agreement.)

In the very few unionised employments in this sector, unions and employers are covered by multi-employer bargaining at national level through social partnership pacts. At company-level, single-employer bargaining is used. National level multi-employer bargaining is the primary level of bargaining, under national wage agreements.

4.2.1. Is there a practice of extending multi-employer agreements to employers who are not affiliated to the signatory employer associations?

Not in this sector.

4.2.2. If there is a practice of extending collective agreements, is this practice pervasive or rather limited and exceptional?

4.3. List all sector-related multi-employer wage agreements* valid in 2006 (or most recent data), including for each agreement information on the signatory parties and the purview of the agreement in terms of branches, types of employees and territory covered.

Separate specific sector level multi-employer wage agreements do not exist in the hairdressing and beauty sector (but see below for information on the Joint Labour Committee (JLC) which sets down minimum pay and conditions in the hairdressing sector). Rather pay in unionised employments is primarily governed by national-level pay determination. The national multi-employer wage agreement in place in 2008 is called ‘Towards 2016’ and it covers the entire unionised sector in Ireland, including unionised employees in the hairdressing and beauty sector. The last pay round of ‘Towards 2016’ amounted to 10% over 27 months. The signatory parties to national level wage agreements are the Irish Government, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) (to which SIPTU and UNITE), and the Irish Business and Employers Confederation/Small Firms Association.

While collective bargaining coverage in the hairdressing and beauty sector is extremely low, as noted above, also relevant is the fact that minimum pay and terms and conditions of employment of workers in many labour intensive and low-pay industries, like the hairdressing and beauty sector, are regulated at industrial (sectoral) level by joint labour committees (JLCs). Currently, there are 17 JLCs in existence. Each JLC is composed of representatives of workers and employers in the sector concerned, as well as a chairman and substitute chairman appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. While JLCs are established by means of a statutory order made by the Labour Court, they are independent bodies which determine minimum rates of pay and conditions of employment for workers in their respective sectors. The pay and conditions agreed by the JLCs are given the force of law in Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) made by the Labour Court on foot of proposals made to the Court by the JLCs. JLCs operate in sectors like hairdressing and beauty where collective bargaining is not well established and wages tend to be low.

The hairdressing JLC sets a minimum floor on pay and conditions across the whole hairdressing sector (it applies to both union and non-union employments). The hairdressing JLC stipulates that ‘Payment of hairdressers, other than apprentices, shall consist of a basic wage plus commission on takings. Where a basic rate plus commission is paid, a record of each worker's takings shall be kept by the employer and shall be made available to the worker for the purpose of verifying the amount of commission due to him or her each week.’

* Only wage agreements which are (re)negotiated on a reiterated basis.

Sector-related multi employer wage agreements
Bargaining parties Purview of the sector-related multi-employer wage agreements
  Sectoral Type of employees Territorial
       
       

List the sector’s four most important collective agreements (single-employer or multi-employer agreements) valid in 2006 (or most recent data), including for each agreement information on the signatory parties and the purview of the agreement in terms of branches, types of employees and territory covered. Importance is measured in terms of employees covered.

Not applicable. See 4.3 for national multi-employer bargaining arrangements in Ireland, and JLC governing minimum pay and conditions in hairdressing.

Four most important agreements in terms of employees covered

Bargaining parties Purview of the agreements
  Sectoral Type of employees Territorial
       
       
       
       

5. Formulation and implementation of sector-specific public policies

5.1. Are the sector’s employer associations and trade unions usually consulted by the authorities in sector-specific matters? If yes, which associations?

Yes. To varying degrees, the unions (SIPTU and UNITE) and employer associations (IBEC/SFA, IHF, ISME) listed above would usually be consulted by the authorities in relation to sector specific matters. The small Independent Workers Union (IWU) would have little influence in this regard and, in any case, has only 10 members across the sector.

5.2. Do tripartite bodies dealing with sector-specific issues exist? If yes, please indicate their domain of activity (for instance, health and safety, equal opportunities, labour market, social security and pensions etc.), their origin (agreement/statutory) and the interest organisations having representatives in them:

Apart from Joint Labour Committees (JLCs) described above, no.

Sector-specific public policies*
Name of the body and scope of activity Bipartite/tripartite Origin: agreement/statutory Trade unions having representatives (reps) Employer associations having reps.
Joint Labour Committee (JLC) regulating minimum pay and conditions for hairdressers and beauticians Tripartite Statutory UNITE SIPTU IBEC/SFA IHF ISME
         

* Sector-specific policies specifically target and affect the sector under consideration.

6. Statutory regulations of representativeness

6.1. In the case of the trade unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to conclude collective agreements? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

Yes, statutory regulations exist in Ireland establishing criteria for representativeness. Unions must have at least 1,000 members to act in a representative capacity and must register and apply for a negotiating license with the Office of the Registrar of Friendly Societies.

6.2. In the case of the trade unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to be consulted in matters of public policy and to participate in tripartite bodies? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

As above, and, as a general rule, unions have to be affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to be consulted in matters of public policy and to participate in tripartite bodies. As the umbrella body for Irish trade unions, the ICTU represents all affiliates at national level. The IWU is not affiliated to ICTU so is not consulted on public policy matters and does not participate in tripartite bodies.

6.3. Are elections for a certain representational body (e.g. works councils) established as criteria for trade union representativeness? If yes, please report the most recent electoral outcome for the sector.

Yes, unions in Ireland must hold elections for their executive council and senior positions.

6.4. Same question for employer associations as 6.1.

Like its union equivalent the ICTU, IBEC has a status in law. It is a registered union of employers and holds a negotiating license. IBEC is a statutory employer representative agency entitled to conclude collective agreements on behalf of employers in the hairdressing sector, and more generally. As an affiliate of IBEC, the Small Firms Association (SFA) benefits from this statutory representativeness.

ISME offers advice to members on industrial relations matters, but does not conclude collective agreements, and is excluded from Ireland’s social partnership process.

Likewise, the IHF offers advice to members on industrial relations matters, but does not conclude collective agreements, and is not part of Ireland’s social partnership process. While not engaging in collective bargaining, however, the IHF would have a representative role in the JLC for hairdressing.

6.5. Same question for employer associations as 6.2.

Yes. As above. As a statutory representative agency which engages in social partnership at national level, IBEC is entitled to be consulted in matters of public policy and to participate in tripartite bodies. ISME and the IHF are not part of national level social partnership, so do not enjoy the same access to consultation on matters of public policy.

6.6. Are elections for a certain representational body established as criteria for the representativeness of employer associations? If yes, please report the most recent outcome for the sector.

7. Commentary

The density of both trade union and employer representative associations and collective bargaining coverage is very low in the hairdressing and beauty sector in Ireland. The sector is primarily comprised of small salons, with women making up the vast proportion of those employed in the sector. Further, employment tends to be highly transient and short-term. Unions have either found it difficult to organise in the sector and recruit shop stewards, largely due to employer opposition; or else have kept away and pragmatically decided it is best to target their organising resources in sectors that are perceived as easier to organise and recruit members. There is a Joint Labour Committee (JLC) setting a minimum floor on pay and conditions for hairdressers and beauticians. However, this floor is rather low (minimum wage level).

Tony Dobbins, IRN Publishing

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