Labour Party absence on workers’ rights debate says everything – Peadar Tóibín TD
Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín has criticised the fact that not one member of the so-called Labour Party turned up for a Dáil debate on legislation strengthening workers’ rights this week.
The Dáil debate centred around a Sinn Féin Bill which seeks to protect employees in the case of collective redundancies, as was witnessed with the Clerys fiasco.
Though the Labour Party had claimed it would protect the rights of the Clerys workers and workers in general, their track record in government proved otherwise.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“Fine Gael and Labour binned the Sunday premium, which effectively amounted to a pay cut for 200,000 low-paid workers. We saw the proliferation of internships and low-hour contracts. Insecure and precarious work has become the norm among thousands of families in the State and the human effect is drastic, putting fierce pressure on families unable to pay for very simple things in their lives.
“Tactical insolvency is another method by which wealth is transferred from low and middle income earners to the 1%. There are some unscrupulous businesses who separate their assets from their responsibilities. Clerys is the most famous case and the practice literally robs workers.
“The State does not get off lightly either. Where is the €2.5 million of State money used to pick up the Clerys redundancy bill? How many millions of euro are paid on an annual basis from taxpayers to unscrupulous companies that do not pay their own way? If we leave this unchecked, companies using tactical insolvencies will have a financial advantage over firms that obey the law.
“In the last Dáil I brought forward legislation that would have pierced that corporate veil and prevented those actions but it was refused by the Labour and Fine Gael Government. Like so many pieces of workers' rights legislation, Fine Gael refused it and Labour Members kept their mouths shut and their heads down.
“This legislation from my colleague, Deputy Cullinane would close the legal loopholes allowing tactical insolvencies. This Bill would give legislative support to the key recommendations of the Duffy-Cahill report commissioned in the wake of the Clerys closure. It would give power to the High Court to return assets that have been improperly transferred and give preferential credit status to employees. It is a reasonable solution to an unreasonable practice.
“We do not do as the Labour Party did in the last Dáil, standing on the streets with the victims of tactical insolvencies to be photographed only to block the necessary legislation in the Dáil.”