The impact of secondary picketing on your workplace.

If like many of Dublin’s commuters, you woke this morning to hear of a transport strike crippling the city, you might have wondered how you and your staff would get to work. Once you stepped out into a gridlocked Dublin, you may have quickly moved to wondering how this was possible with no notice given to Dublin Bus, DART or Irish Rail users.

Industrial action within Bus Éireann has been taking place over the last number of weeks. The National Bus and Rail Union balloted its members and engaged in official industrial action which was notified in the normal course to the Bus Éireann management team. This morning, Bus Éireann workers engaged in secondary picketing at depots belonging to Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann. Employees of Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann chose not to pass the picket line of their colleagues and some workers joined the picket.

The National Bus and Rail Union has stressed this morning that the union did not orchestrate or condone the pickets and that Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann workers should go back to work as normal.

Are the strikes lawful? What is secondary picketing?

The picketing of a business other than the specific employer is known as secondary picketing. In Ireland, such picketing is illegal unless the employer subject to the secondary picket has made special arrangements to circumvent the effects of legitimate industrial actions. This is not the case in Ireland today, as Dublin Bus and Iarnrod Éireann were running services as normal and there were no efforts made to circumvent the Bus Éireann strike. For a legitimate strike to take place, notice of at least one week should be served on the employer.

What will happen next?

This will depend on how long the picketing lasts. At the time of writing, morning rush hour has been severely disrupted. If the disruption continues throughout the day and into the evening, it is likely that action will be taken to stop the picketing. Diageo and Coca-Cola have been successful in the past in securing High Court injunctions to prevent secondary picketing of their premises when they were not directly involved in the industrial action. It remains to be seen if Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann will take similar action.