diverse women

The promotion of human rights, equality and diversity is a fundamental principle of trade unionism and part of our daily struggle for freedom, equality and justice for all.

Congress believes in equal rights for all workers and is committed to combating all forms of discrimination and promoting equality within workplaces and our trade unions. It is widely recognised that the workplace is a strategic entry point to free society from discrimination and so Congress places great emphasis on supporting our affiliate trade unions in representing the interests of a very diverse membership.

The extent of equality and anti-discrimination legislation has developed over the years and includes our national equality body,, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to which cases can be referred. Congress is represented on the board of the WRC and participated in a Worker Employer Advisory Committee to IHREC.
Congress has developed a guide to taking an equality case and carries out regular training courses. There is a membership premium being a member of a trade union – as we have your back if you feel you have been discriminated against.

Employers are more likely to pay attention when workers act together, especially through a trade union. It’s the best way to bring about new policies and practices that make the workplace fairer for everyone.


Despite being unlawful, discrimination occurs in the world of work every day and leads to isolation, abuse and victimisation. IHREC/ESRI research finds that 12 per cent of the population in Ireland reported experiencing some form of discrimination in the previous two years.

Discrimination rates were highest in relation to seeking work (7 per cent), followed by the workplace (5 per cent).
The Government has a range of equality related strategies which are overseen by Committees convened by various Government Departments. Congress participates actively on these, including:

  • The National Strategy for Women and Girls;
  • The Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disability;
  • The National Anti-Racism Committee charged with drafting Ireland’s next National Anti-Racism Action Plan;
  • National Traveller and Roma Integration Strategy employment sub-group;
  • The National LGBTI+ Inclusion strategy.


We also regularly prepare submissions on equality related issues.
Congress is affiliated internationally to The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the European Trade Union Congress (ETUC) and works closely with them on equality issues at international and European level.
This included being part of the Workers Group that negotiated the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work and campaigning for its ratification here.

And at EU level, campaigning for the transposition of the EU Work Life Balance Directive. 
Congress has a number of equality related committees to advise and drive our equality work, including:

  • The Congress Womens Committees;
  • The Congress Disability Committee.
  • An Equality Network of union officials