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Morgan - Government preventing workers accessing profits of boom years

15 May, 2003

In the Dáil today, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on the Environment and Local Government, Arthur Morgan TD, speaking on the Redundancy Payments Bill 2003, accused the PD/Fianna Fáil government of having no affinity with protecting the rights and entitlements of the working class.

Deputy Morgan said

"Despite the wealth generated in the last ten years, life remains a perpetual struggle for the low paid workers of this state. James Larkin once referred to William Martin Murphy as the "most foul and vicious blackguard that ever polluted any country ... a capitalistic vampire". If he had lived today, I expect that Larkin would describe the current Minister for Finance in similar terms, for it is Minister McCreevy who has led the lockout against the workers of this state, preventing them from accessing the profits which their labour generated during the years of the Celtic tiger boom.

"The workers of Peerless Rugs in Athy and the Irish Glass Bottle Factory in Dublin deserve much of the credit for forcing this uncaring Government to reform the outdated Redundancy legislation, the basic terms of which had not changes in 35 years. It is a sad indictment of this Government that it took the protracted disputes at Peerless Rugs and the Irish Glass Bottle Factory and the determination of the workers of those companies to force the Government to bring forward legislation to increase redundancy entitlements.

"I do not believe the Bill has gone far enough with regard to the level of statutory redundancy. Workers who have long waited for this legislation are deeply disappointed that the Government, once again, has given into pressure from employer organisations to restrict the level of redundancy to two weeks per year of service. Sinn Féin supports the demands made by the Trade Unions that the statutory redundancy payments be increased to three weeks pay for every year of service.

"The provisions contained within this Bill should have been made retrospective as there is evidence that employers have been downsizing and bringing forward redundancies to evade the terms of the legislation. Workers should not have to suffer because the Government delayed in bringing forward this legislation.

"The Government must insure that workers are protected at a time of economic downturn and this includes measures in addition to providing adequate statutory redundancy. We need to see a real strategy from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment to deal with job losses which goes beyond simply setting up a new task force each time a factory or business closes." ENDS

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