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Government must act immediately to protect vulnerable workers

7 July, 2011

Responding to the news that the High Court has upheld a challenge by fast-food operators to the constitutionality of Joint Labour Committees, Sinn Féin Deputy Peadar Tóibín urged the government to, “immediately challenge the decision to the Supreme Court. This government needs to take whatever constitutional or legislative steps that are necessary to protect the incomes of more than 190,000 workers.”

Deputy Tóibín said, “This ruling will have huge implications. It could have a devastating effect on thousands of families throughout the state. The average wage of those on wage rates governed by the JLCs is €18,000. These are the most vulnerable, lowest paid employees in the work force. Now, due to the finding of the High Court, there are no legal protections to prevent these wages being driven down.

“I have already contacted Minister Bruton ’s office raising my concerns at today’s court ruling and calling on him to immediately take necessary action. The government cannot be allowed to use this court finding as an excuse to drive down wages and further strengthen their policies of austerity.

“Any attempt to sidestep their responsibility to protect these families will be met with robust opposition. Businesses need to see a reduction in rent costs, rates costs and interest rates. Driving down wages will further reduce our economy. Wages need to be protected not reduced.”

In conclusion, Deputy Tóibín called on Fine Gael and the Labour Party, “to respond positively and ensure workers and their families do not face increased poverty.” ENDS

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