March 17th: Speaking in Waterford, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly this morning warned that employers are engaging in what he termed an “unprecedented juridical war” against workers in an attempt to prevent them organising and collectively defending their rights. Mr Kelly said that the decision by Aer Lingus to sue SIPTU for damages was just the latest attempt by employers to circumvent established industrial relations mechanisms by resorting to the courts or, in the case of the Government, creating new laws.
“During the past while we have seen employers take to the courts to attack wage floors for low-paid workers, we have seen the Government – as the employer of public sector workers – introduce FEMPI legislation to undermine collective bargaining rights, and now we see Aer Lingus’ attempt to intimidate workers by suing their union representatives for damages based on the mere prospect of industrial action.
“Taken together, all these developments amount to a new juridical war on workers who are already reeling from attacks on their wages and conditions since the onset of the crisis.
“The rights of workers to organise and defend their rights collectively – if necessary through the threat or use of industrial action – have been hard won, and the trade union movement must unite to vigorously defend those rights”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.