Congress is the largest civil society organisation on the island of Ireland, representing and campaigning on behalf of some 832,000 working people. There are currently 55 unions affiliated to Congress, north and south of the border.
Congress seeks to achieve a just society - one which recognises the rights of all workers and citizens to enjoy the prosperity and fulfilment which leads to a good quality of life. Quality of life embraces not just material well-being, but freedom of choice to engage in the arts, culture and all aspects of civic life. This vision applies in the context of Ireland, Europe and the wider world and challenges the existing economic order.
Congress will strive to achieve economic development, social cohesion and justice by upholding the values of solidarity, fairness and equality.
The primary instrument for the achievement of this mission will be the organisation of workers in unions. Congress will also construct and advocate for a platform of policies capable of delivering our vision of a just society. We will engage with Government, employers, civil society organisations, voluntary groups and international bodies to promote its attainment. We will support unions in their efforts to secure a fairer distribution of the wealth their members create.
Arising from this there are four key objectives:
- To build capacity in recruitment, organisation and advocacy;
- To improve Congress capacity to regulate relations between affiliated unions;
- To achieve the financial viability of Congress;
- To create a broad base of support or empathy with a concept of the common good which will help us to translate our vision of a just society into reality.
Through the Social Partnership process, Congress can shape and influence government action in key areas, such as taxation, employment legislation, education and social policy. In general terms, the role of Congress is to:
- Represent and advance the economic and social interests of working people;
- Negotiate national agreements with government and employers, when mandated to do so by constituent and member unions;
- Promote the principles of trade unionism through campaigns and policy development.
- Provide information, advice and training to unions and their members;
- Assist with the resolution of disputes between unions and employers;
- Regulate relations between unions and ruling on inter-union disputes.
Congress also pursues these objectives at both the EU and the global level.Congress is the sole Irish affiliate of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the representative body for trade unions at European level and is also affiliated to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
Congress operates in accordance with its Constitution and Standing Orders.