The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has welcomed a cross-party agreement in Seanad Eireann today (10 November 2016) to introduce exemptions from competition law for certain self-employed workers.
The Competition (Amendment) Bill was introduced by the Labour party as a Private Member’s Bill. The Minister, working with Senators Ivana Bacik and Ged Nash, has introduced amendments to the bill which allow for specific exemptions aimed at protecting vulnerable, self-employed workers.
The amended Bill provides that when it is enacted, three categories of workers (voice-over actors, session musicians and freelance journalists) will be exempt from section 4 of the Competition Act 2002 and be allowed to engage in collective bargaining. In addition, a formal process is set out allowing trade unions apply for similar exemptions for certain categories of self-employed workers.
Commenting on the Competition (Amendment) Bill, the Minister stated: “The original Bill was aimed at protecting vulnerable self-employed worker as initiated. Whilst understanding the principle behind the original Bill, I was very seriously concerned about the scope of the Bill and the impact it would have on the Exchequer. However, having worked with both Senator Bacik & Nash, I believe we have found the best way forward.
I feel we have the appropriate balance now between protecting vulnerable workers and ensuring fair competition in the market. It is important that certain categories of workers are protected and have the right to collective bargaining. I want to promote quality secure employment and this bill assists with that.
I am delighted that the Senator and her party, along with other Senators in Seanad Eireann, have worked in a collaborative manner with the Government to ensure a more targeted measure has been agreed and that the focus of the Bill is on vulnerable self-employed workers.”
The Minister also stated, “This legislation is a positive example of co-operative politics. I look forward to similar collaboration in the Oireachtas in the future.”