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Passing of Competition Bill ‘great news for freelance workers’ – Quinlivan

1 June, 2017 - by Maurice Quinlivan TD

Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan has welcomed the final stage passing of the Competition (Amendment) Bill 2016 through the Dáil last night.

Speaking from Leinster House, Deputy Quinlivan said:

 “I was delighted to see the Competition (Amendment) Bill 2016 pass final stage in the Dáil last night. This important bill will benefit many freelance journalists, musicians, and actors who have been disadvantaged since their right to be represented by a union in collective bargaining was removed from them due to a ruling by the Competition Authority in 2004.

“The Authority's decision effectively turned the clock back almost 200 years to the era of the Combination Laws, which made it unlawful for workers to ‘join together’ to press their employer for shorter hours or more pay.

“I spoke on the Bill last night and acknowledged the important contribution Senator Ivana Bacik made in bringing this legislation forward. I also thanked all those trade union activists and officials in SIPTU, Irish Equity, the Musicians Union of Ireland and the National Union of Journalists who have kept this on the agenda and saw it through until the end. These people deserve the credit for this victory for workers.

“While debating this bill in both the Seanad and the Dáil, it became clear the detrimental effect that this competition ruling had on the livelihoods of these workers. An Arts Council investigation into living standards found that just two in five professional artists spend all their time working as artists as a result of their income not being sufficient. The average income of a professional artist in 2008 was just under €15,000, with half earning €8,000 or less. In many cases, we are talking about poverty wages. The Arts Council investigated standards of living in this area a number of years ago. They was found that just two in five professional artists spend all their time working as artists because there is just not enough income for them. One third often or always work more than 55 hours per week. In other words, they have to do additional jobs to supplement their work. Therefore, this legislation is long overdue.

 “The number of people working in freelance arrangements continues to increase, so this legislation will provide protection for these people and allow unions to organise these workers so they can collectively achieve a better deal for themselves.

 “This Bill received cross-party support in both the Dáil and the Seanad, and I was on the Jobs Committee last week where we passed the bill through quickly, as we appreciate how important it is to get this concluded. I am delighted it has now passed the final stage in the Oireachtas.” 

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