Labour migration to Ireland is a fairly recent phenomenon. It takes place largely in response to ‘Ireland’s call’ for additional labour to sustain the economic boom. The inflow of migrant workers has significantly transformed the Irish workforce. This article examines how Irish trade unions respond to this challenge. In drawing on qualitative interviews mainly with trade union officials as well as documentary analysis, I show that unions promote a rights-based approach to immigration. This is done not only for ideological reasons (workers’ solidarity and opposition to exploitation) but also self-interest. From a trade union perspective, migrants who enjoy the same rights as Irish workers and who become integrated in the workplace and wider society are less likely to undermine labour standards.
Source: Irish Journal of Sociology, Volume 16, Issue 1, June 2007