Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations
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Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations

Edited by Michael Barry and Adrian Wilkinson

The Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations is an essential resource for those seeking to understand contemporary developments in the world of work, and the way in which employment relations systems are evolving around the world.
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Chapter 9: Employment Relations in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland

Tony Dundon and David G. Collings


Tony Dundon and David G. Collings INTRODUCTION The United Kingdom (UK)1 and Republic of Ireland (hereafter Ireland) share a number of broadly similar characteristics, in part owing to the close proximity of the two countries as well as the legacy of British imperialism and governance in the centuries before the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922. Both countries joined the European Union (EU) around the same time in the 1970s; English is the predominant language in both jurisdictions; and a considerable amount of commercial trade occurs between the two nations. Ireland is much smaller with a population of just over 4 million, compared with 61 million in the UK (Eurostat, 2009a). Ireland is the second most expensive country in which to live in the EU (after Denmark), with the UK ranked twelfth and marginally below the EU average (Eurostat, 2009b). Employees in the UK work on average 2.6 hours more per week than their counterparts in Ireland: 43.2 hours per week in the UK compared with an average of 40.6 in Ireland (Schäfer, 2006). Unemployment has risen in both countries in recent times, standing at 7.9 per cent in the UK and 12.5 per cent in Ireland (CSO Ireland, 2009; Labour Force Survey [UK], 2010). Labour market participation is higher in the UK than in Ireland: around 65 per cent of women are in employment in the UK compared with 56 per cent of women in Ireland (Schäfer, 2006). It is against this descriptive backdrop...

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