The Irish union movement is now facing its biggest challenge since the Irish Troubles, when thousands of Irish workers joined the ranks of the anti-austerity movement in the wake of the Great Recession.
The number of trade unionists working for employers has more than halved since 2008.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has ranked the Irish economy among the worst in the world.
Its latest report, published on Tuesday, shows the unemployment rate for Irish people in the private sector stood at 25.1 per cent in December.
Its data is compiled every three years, but its analysis of the labour market shows the number of jobs has increased by 2.5 per cent.
The ILO says the fall in the unemployment is “not necessarily a sign of a decline in demand for workers” and “could reflect a temporary decline in labour market conditions”.
However, the statistics are also “unreliable as a measure of employment”, the report said.
It also warned that the government could be forced to intervene if it fails to make up the shortfall.
The Government is under pressure to raise taxes to provide for its public services, but there is growing public anger about nepotistic behaviour at companies and companies doing business in the country.
The Irish union movements response, in a nutshell, is: it wants to fight for fair competition and better working conditions, but it wants the job to be fair for everyone.
The labour movement is also calling for better protection of workers’ rights and better pay for workers, and more transparency.
But its stance is not being welcomed by the business community.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it has no plans to go on strike in the coming days and that it was “satisfied that the Government is doing all it can to provide the public with a fair and sustainable economy”.
“The trade unions have had no contact with us in the last few weeks,” said an NUMA spokesman.
“We are not going to take any strike action in the current period.”
The government is also struggling to meet the demands of the trade union movement.
Its Trade Union Bill is being debated in the Dáil today and will likely be debated again on Wednesday.
The bill, which was backed by the Government, would extend collective bargaining rights for trade union members to 60 days, extend the right to strike for six weeks and extend the pay and conditions of the minimum wage to cover overtime.
It would also make it easier for employers to suspend the right of members to strike, if the union failed to pay the required wages.
The unions have also warned of potential legal challenges if the Bill is passed and the unions are not given the right time to present their case.