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Exploitation of Agency Workers cannot continue

19 February, 2008

Speaking ahead of this evening's joint Sinn Féin and Labour Party Private Members Motion demanding equal rights for agency workers Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has criticised government for failing to introduce legislation on the issue and for blocking the EU Directive on Temporary Workers.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said said:
"Government refusal to enact legislation that ensures equal pay, terms and conditions between agency workers and permanent staff performing the same work has led to an increasing exploitation of vulnerable workers in an array of sectors.
"This joint motion, from Sinn Féin and the Labour Party, demands that the abuse of agency workers is ended, that their right to equal treatment with other workers is enshrined in law and that government support the long promised EU Directive on Temporary Workers.
"The absence of protection for agency workers is increasingly affecting Irish workers as well as migrant workers. Notably this form of exploitation is undermining existing terms and conditions of employment and is depressing wages for workers in many sectors. At a time when low-income low skill jobs are particularly vulnerable there can be no denying that without the necessary legislation in place the race to bottom has already begun. The consequences of any further delay in legislation cannot be overstated.
"The Irish government is also blocking attempts at an EU level to protect agency workers. Ireland is just one of three countries who refuse to support the EU Temporary Workers Directive which seeks to assure equality in pay and conditions for workers after six weeks in employment. Government justification is that by giving agency workers equal rights to permanent staff Ireland's competitiveness will be damaged. This is a groundless claim.
"Every state in Europe which ranks ahead of us in terms of competitiveness has such legislation in place. In addition the majority of new EU members have introduced laws to tackle the problem of employers using agency workers as a means to pay less and side step normal terms and conditions of employment.
"All workers must receive equal pay and conditions for equal work. Sinn Féin will continue to support the trade union movement campaign on this issue. The party will also be launching a countrywide leafleting campaign calling for Equal Rights for Agency Workers. In addition Sinn Féin Councillors have been lodging motions at their monthly local authority meetings calling on government to acknowledge the principle of equal treatment within the workforce by immediately introducing the necessary legislation. "CRÍOCH

For further information please contact:
Sinéad Ní Bhroin 087 9266764
Sinn Féin Press Office: 01 618 4276

Note to Journalist/Editor:

Wording of Dáil Motion below

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