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SF calls for stand alone Department of Labour Affairs

17 November, 2005


Sinn Féin Workers Rights spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has demanded, on behalf of Sinn Féin, “that a stand alone Department of Labour Affairs be established to decouple labour affairs from enterprise as there is a conflict of between the two.” Deputy Morgan made his comments during the debate on the Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Bill 2005 in the Dáil today.

He said, “Before going into the detail on the Bill I would like to put on record Sinn Féin’s demand that a stand alone Department of Labour Affairs be established to decouple labour affairs from enterprise as there is a conflict of interest between the two.  There is also increasing evidence that civil servants within the existing Department are hostile to proposals to improve workers rights.

“This Bill reflects the antagonism of American multinational corporations in particular towards dealing with workers as a collective body.  Workers representatives have expressed serious concern and disappointment at this legislation.  ICTU for example have said that it is “untenable in its current form on the basis that the government had adopted the minimalist approach to the Information and Consultation Directive that was advocated by the employers.

“The Minister spoke of the partnership process – but no commitment to real partnership is evident from this legislation. Indeed it seems odd to speak of partnership at a time when the displacement of workers through outsourcing and recruitment of underpaid migrant labour is becoming a growing feature of the labour market in this state and when companies such as Irish Ferries and Doyle Concrete are tearing up recommendations from the Labour Court.

“It is Sinn Féin’s position that workers must have the right to form and join trade unions, negotiate contracts of employment, the right to picket and to withhold their labour and that employers must recognize trade unions.  We believe that trade union recognition is necessary and if the government and others are genuinely committed to having workers and employers work together they would support this position.  Nothing in this bill obliges companies to deal with trade unions –what we need is legislation to oblige companies to recognize trade unions.  In non-unionized workplaces this legislation will largely have no impact as it is currently formulated.  This legislation should provide for collective consultation only.” ENDS

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