Poverty and inequality absent from the Labour’s Low Pay Commission Terms of Reference- Cllr Shane O’Brien
Sinn Féin's general election candidate Cllr Shane O'Brien today welcomed the establishment of the Low Pay Commission but criticised the Labour party for excluding poverty and inequality from the group’s terms of reference.
The councillor for Dún Laoghaire Rathdown said:
“Low paid, insecure work is an increasing problem that is exasperating the broader economic inequality workers are now faced with.
Ireland has one of the highest rates of low pay in Europe. The numbers in part-time work continue to increase with 13% more workers employed part time since 2007, and the increasing use of zero hour contracts is also adding to job insecurity.
“We wish the Commission membership every success in their new roles however we have major concerns regarding the proposed legislation which will underpin the work of the group.
It appears the Labour party has learnt none of the lessons of their sister organisation in Britain who support important reforms of the Low Pay Commission in Britain.
“An independent report on low pay endorsed last year by the British Labour party called for a strengthened role for the Low Pay Commission in tackling poverty and a new role across sectors where low pay is prevalent.
“Despite the Labour’s junior ministers much voiced commitment to tackling low pay and economic inequality; there is not a single reference to poverty or inequality in the draft heads of the bill.
Labour is creating a Low Pay Commission that is not by definition built to address the growing problems of poverty and inequality but instead focuses on exchange rates and the minimum wage rates of other jurisdictions. Even with the best will of the participants of the Low Pay Commission, if poverty and inequality are left out of the terms of reference they won’t be tackled in the proposed solution.
“Labour tells us that they want to take the politics out of setting the minimum wage. This is the problem. It’s clear that they have left their political commitments out of all key decisions affecting low paid workers to date.
“Labour say it will take no action on zero hour contracts until they gather sufficient evidence of their existence. The truth is government could have had that evidence today if they had tasked the Central Statistics Office with collecting data on zero hour contracts as part of the Quarterly National Household Survey work as is now done by the Office for Central Statistics in Britain.
“Zero hour contracts for many workers are a 21st century version of the hiring fairs of old and that is why Sinn Féin wants to see these deeply exploitative contracts abolished in this state and in the North.