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Agency Workers Bill an exercise in government cynicism – Tóibín

22 February, 2012

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Peadar Tóibín TD today accused the government of acting cynically in relation to the rights of agency workers.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“The widespread abuse of agency workers as a low cost replacement for permanent staff is a disgrace in this state and across Europe.

“The EU moved to ensure that agency workers had equal rights and pay with permanent staff. The government were then forced to act on this issue. At the time of bringing forward the legislation Minister Bruton said ‘this Bill represents an important step for agency workers by guaranteeing equal treatment, in terms of pay and basic working conditions, with directly recruited workers’. Yet the government has included a provision that excludes a section of agency workers from the protections of the Bill.

“This creates a loophole in the legislation that undermines the fine words of the Minister and undermines the spirit of the legislation.

“There was a discussion in the committee on the issue and we had hoped that the government would act. The government know it is a loophole and they refuse to do anything about it. I along with other members tabled amendments to this provision and were ruled out on the basis that it would place a potential charge on the Exchequer.

“The maintaining of this loophole is a cynical action by a government that has sought to undermine workers’ rights and drive down wages for the low paid. Either Labour supports this approach or they are asleep.

“The lack of a focus on the low paid is in stark contrast to the approach to senior civil service pay and perks for government ministers to attend cabinet.

“I call on the minister to accept the amendments as tabled and to close down this loophole.”

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