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Reform of employment rights bodies must contain robust protections for workers’ rights

11 July, 2012 - by David Cullinane TD

The reform of the various employment rights bodies would be a welcome step according to Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane, but only if they have at their heart robust protections for the rights of ordinary workers.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on workers’ rights was speaking following a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs Enterprise and Employment where Minister Richard Bruton was present to discuss his policy document on the issue. The document is entitled Legislating for a World-Class Workplace Relations Service.

Senator Cullinane said:

“Sinn Féin has engaged constructively with the Minister’s consultation process on proposed reforms. We have made it clear from the outset that it was essential that any such reform should not limit the ability of workers to vindicate their rights at the behest of certain business lobbies. Any reforms must ultimately bolster the rights of workers to have any value.

“The Minister’s latest document appears to have taken on some of the submissions made by Sinn Féin and by other groups and Trade Unions. We are pleased that the Minister now intends to allow for an automatic right of appeal to the Labour Court. We are also encouraged that this document disregards the earlier proposal to introduce a €50 fee for hearings and appeals.

“We are also encouraged that the role of the Registrar seems to have been further qualified and will be subject to significant oversight. We will however reserve judgement on this matter until we see this in legislative form.

“We are disappointed however that the Minister has refused to listen to the view expressed in many submissions that a six month time limit to make a claim is inadequate. This should be 12 months at a minimum. We also believe that the provisions regarding compliance need to be strengthened and that forms of restitution are put in place which are clearly deterrent and punitive where necessary.

“We hope these issues will be resolved before these proposals are brought to legislation.”

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