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Council of Ministers should regularise the position Agency workers

4 December, 2007

Commenting on the European Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels over the next two days, Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) said:

"On the agenda of the Council of Ministers over the next two days is a variety of issues on employment and social policy.

"They will be seeking to reach 'political agreement' on draft directives concerning working time and conditions for temporary workers amongst other issues.

"Sinn Féin is in total support of the Agency Workers Directive. We support the Directives proposal to give temporary workers the right to full pay and conditions after six weeks of employment.

"We recognise the need to create jobs, upskill workers and support business, particularly SMEs. However this need not be at the cost of exploiting workers.

"We do not support proposals by some governments - including the Irish government - that seek to extend the qualifying period for the right to full pay and conditions beyond six weeks. We believe an extended qualifying period would serve only to encourage rogue employers to manipulate casual workers in order to circumvent any labour law directives introduced. Any diminution of the proposed Agency Workers Directive and the rights of temporary workers to full pay and conditions after six weeks of employment would leave the most vulnerable workers in a cycle of no rights, low pay and job insecurity. This is unacceptable.

"I call on the British and Irish governments who have consistently opposed the Directive to withdraw their opposition and stand up for workers rights." ENDS

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