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Low-Pay Commission has potential to depoliticize issue of in-work poverty – Cullinane

26 February, 2015 - by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers Rights has said the Low Pay Commission may be used to shift the debate about in-work poverty and low pay away from the political arena.   Speaking in response to the announcement that the Commission is about to begin its work, Senator Cullinane said:

“According to Eurostat Ireland has one of the highest percentage of low paid workers in the EU. The government has been in power for four years and has introduced some of the most draconian and harsh budgets since the foundation of the state.”

“The net result has been the decimation of public services and the impoverishment of thousands of workers. The failure of Labour and Fine Gael to join up the dots and make the connection between the politics of austerity, in work poverty, and the denial of workers’ rights is staggering.”

“Low pay is but one aspect of bad working conditions; control, fear, and a lack of respect are others. Women, young people and those with limited formal education or skills should not be subjected to Victorian era working conditions.”

“If the government was serious about dealing with low pay, a situation they themselves created, then why has it taken four years to do so. We have mountains of data on low pay from the CSO, the ESRI, and the OECD.”

“What workers need is an increase in the minimum wage, security of hours, and the government to sign up to the European Part-time- Working  Directive. They need the restoration of the JLC’s, trade union recognition, and employers to be legally obliged to engage with unions on pay and conditions.”  

“The Low Pay Commission allows the government to control the debate around in-work poverty, while at the same time distancing itself from the issue by way of the Commission.”

“The value of labour and the regulation of the labour market is a political issue that belongs in the political arena and requires a political solution. Ultimately this is about whether we want a society based on fairness, equality and decent work, or one built on exploitation, fear and low pay.” 

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