Sinn Fein spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Senator David Cullinane has today described Senator Feargal Quinn’s Bill which would penalise Unions and workers who take industrial action as draconian.
Senator Cullinane said;
“I cannot support this draconian legislation which would criminalise trade unions, workers and their representatives.
“Senator Quinn’s Bill is aimed, in the short-term, at ESB workers who are in dispute with the company over their pensions. But I have no doubt that if it was passed this legislation would, in the long term, be used against nurses, doctors, teachers and others workers in the public sector.
“The Bill makes it a criminal offence for a person to induce another to cause an interruption to the supply of a critical utility.
“This is, by any standards, an appalling piece of legislation which clearly shows that Senator Quinn has no grasp of the issues behind the current dispute at the ESB.
“Attempts to introduce legislation that would criminalize workers who are in dispute with their employer belong in another era. Senator Quinn should be ashamed of himself for dreaming up such a repugnant and anti-worker Bill.
“This sloppy and coercive legislation has no place in a modern democracy where workers have rights.
“The bottom line is that ESB management, for accounting and borrowing purposes, from 2011 on, treated the workers’ Defined Benefit pension scheme as a Defined Contribution scheme.
“As a result workers pension entitlements will be massively reduced with all of the risk of the scheme transferred to the workers. The net effect of this could leave a worker with over 30 years’ service with a weekly pension of just €13.
“To make matter worse the majority of workers concerned are not entitled to a state pension.
“Workers from the five unions affiliated to the ESB Group of Unions voted overwhelmingly (87% for, 12.5% against) in favour of strike action.
“Sinn Féin supports the ESB workers and their right to engage in industrial action.”