Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Bairbre de Brún MEP - Workers Rights and Trade Unions - Motion 151

18 February, 2006


The safeguarding of labour standards and the protection and extension of workers rights are priorities for Sinn Féin The past year has witnessed an unprecedented level of attacks upon workers, public services and ultimately upon whole communities. There has been an EU wide drive to erode the employment conditions of workers. All across Europe, governments and industry are keen to pit worker against fellow worker to ensure a "race to the bottom" with regard to pay and conditions. Here, in one of the richest economies in the world, businesses are paying migrant workers well below the minimum wage - sometimes as low as €2 and €3 per hour. And an Irish government lets them get away with it!

I want to speak specifically in favour of motion 151, and to highlight some of the key social battles being fought at EU level. I want to pledge my support for the rights of workers and specifically the need for a European Ferries Directive. In December, at the height of the Irish Ferries dispute, I and Mary Lou McDonald met with the EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrott to press the case for a Ferries Directive.

Ferry companies are registering their operations outside of the EU where they are untouched by national and European labour law. By so doing they are free to attack workers pay and conditions. A Ferries Directive as proposed in 1998 would not be it would have prevented the worst excesses we saw at Irish Ferries.

A small but significant victory was won in January when MEPs voted to reject proposals to de-regulate ports across the EU. The Commission had re-introduced these proposals in the face of widespread opposition, and their defeat shows that workers can make their voices heard in urging politicians to prevent attacks on their rights, pay and conditions. That is an important lesson for the days ahead.


On Thursday the European Parliament voted in favour of the highly controversial EU Services Directive. Sinn Féin voted against the Directive, which will commercialise services within the EU and will deprive millions of people of quality public services.


The position of many other Irish MEPs leaves much to be desired. The Labour Party in particular needs to explain why their MEP voted for a proposal which affords little protection for workers and will see their position in the labour market considerably eroded. I was disappointed that Proinsias De Rossa MEP supported the directive, which he claims is a victory for workers - it is nothing of the sort.


The key parts of the motion supported by the Labour Party were deceptive - the Country of Origin Principle (allowing companies to employ people under the pay and conditions of countries where salaries are lower and employment conditions are weaker) has been renamed, but remains at the heart of the directive.

The Services Directive opens the way for an all-out attack on public services, and creates the potential for Irish Ferries style developments across the services sector.

Workers in Ireland, and throughout Europe, will lose out as standards plummet, and third country workers will be subject to appalling terms of employment.

As well driving down wages and undermining collective bargaining, the Directive could drive many small and medium-sized enterprises out of business as they are unable to compete with the new low-wage monopolies which will roll out their poor employment conditions across Europe.

In short, a democratically elected Irish government would be unable to protect workers and consumers in Ireland, even if it could be persuaded to try.

The campaign against the Services Directive must continue, indeed it must intensify if we are to be true to the many thousands who marched in Strasbourg last week to protect services and workers' rights.

The clear message is that our fundamental rights, our natural resources and our public services are not for sale.

Those who still wish to see the Services Directive defeated need to make their voices heard in the coming weeks. The Irish government must hear loud and clear that you do not want them to vote for this in the Council of Ministers and Irish MEPs need to hear with equal clarity that you do not want us to vote for this directive when it returns to the European Parliament.

Across Ireland people are standing up to those who would deny them their rights from the people in Rossport to the GAMA workers and the many thousands of people who took to the streets to oppose the treatment of the employees of Irish Ferries and to demand that no one should be asked to accept less than the minimum wage, no matter where they come from.

The fightback has begun all across Europe. Let's all play our part in that.


Óráid Bhairbre de Brún Ard Fhéis 2006

Cearta oibrithe agus ceardchumainn. A chairde agus a chomrádaithe,

Is príorachtaí de chuid Sinn Féin iad cosaint chaighdeán oibre agus cosaint chearta oibre, chomh maith le cur leis na cearta sin.

Le bliain anuas chonaiceamar leibhéal gan macasamhail d'ionsaithe ar oibrithe. Bhí feachtas fud fad an AE le coinníollacha fostaíochta a chreimeadh. Ba mhaith le rialtais agus le tionscnamh trasna na hEorpa oibrí a chur i gcoinne oibrí rud a chinnteóidh ´rás go tóin poill´ maidir le pá agus coinníollacha oibre. Anseo, I gceann de na geilleagair is saibhre ar an domhain, tá gnónna ag íoc oibrithe inimirceacha níos lú ná an íosphá ˆ in amanna chomh híseal le 2 agus 3 in aghaidh na huaire. Agus ligeann rialtas na hÉireann dóibh é seo a dhéanamh!

Ba mhaith liom labhairt ar son rún 151 go háirithe, a bhaineas leis an ghá atá ann Treoir Eorpach Farantóireachta a thabhairt isteach. I mí na Nollag, le linn do díospóid Irish Ferries, bhuail mé féin agus Mary Lou McDonald le Coimisinéir Iompar de chuid an AE, Jacques Barrott, leis an chás ar son Treoir Farantoireachta a chur faoina bhráid..

Tá comhlachtaí calaí ag clárú oibríochtaí s'acu taobh amuigh den AE, in áiteanna nach dtagann siad faoi thionchar dlíthe náisiúnta agus Eorpacha. Agus iad ag déanamh seo, tá said saor ó bhru ó thaobh tuarastálacha agus coinníollacha de. Ní bheadh Treoir Farantóoireachta mar a mholadh I 1998 ina leigheas iomlán ach thabharfadh sé ar a laghad íos-chosaint d'oibrithe calaí in uiscí na hEorpa.

Nuair a dhiúltaigh FPÉeanna glacadh leis an Treoir Seirbhísí Poirt i mí Eanáir, Treoir a thug an Coimisiún isteach arís aineoinn cur i gcoinne forleathan, taispeánadh gur féidir le hoibrithe glóir s'acu a ardú ag a chur ina luí ar pholaiteoirí go gcaithear ionsaithe ar chearta, pá agus choinníollacha a dhiultú. Is ceacht tábhachtach é sin do na laethanta os ár gcomhair amach.

Vótáil Parlaimint na hEorpa ar son Treoir na Seirbhíse de chuid an AE ar an Déardaoin. Vótáil Sinn Féin in aghaidh na Treorach, rud a thrachtálfadh beagnach gach seirbhís taobh istigh den AE agus a choinneodh seirbhísí poiblí de ardchaighdeán ar shiúl ó dhaoine.

Is ábhar mór díoma é seasamh cuid de na FPÉeanna eile de chuid na hÉireann. Caithfidh Páirtí an Lucht Oibre go háirithe míniú a thabhairt d'oibrithe cad chuige gur vótáil siad ar son rún nach dtugann mórán cosaint d'oibrithe agus a fhágann áit s'acu i mhargadh an tsaothair creimithe. Bhí díoma orm gur thacaigh Proinsias De Rossa FPÉ leis an Treoir. Dar leis gur bua d'oibrithe é - ní rud ar bith den chineál í!

Bhí na heochair chodanna den rún, a thacaigh Páirtí an Lucht Obre leis, mealltach - tá ainm nua ar Phrionsabal na Tíre Dúchasaí (a ligeann do chomhlachtaí daoine a fhostú faoi choinníollacha tíortha ina bhfuil tuarastálacha níos ísle agus choinníollacha níos laige), ach go bunúsach is é an rud chéanna é.


Osclaíonn Treoir na Seirbhíse an bealach do tuilleadh ionsaithe ar sheirbhísí poiblí. Cruthaíonn sé an féidearthacht go bhfecifear forbairtí cosúil le Irish Ferries trasna earnáil na seirbhísí.

Caillfidh oibrithe in Éirinn, mar a chaillfidh oibrithe fud fad na hEorpa, titfidh caighdeáin go tubaisteach agus beidh oibrithe tríú tíre thíos leis agus iad ag obair faoi théarmaí uafásacha fostaíochta.

Chomh maith le turastálacha a bhrú síos agus dóchar a dhéanamh do chómhargáil, cuirfidh Treoir na Seirbhse go leor fiontar beag as gnó mar nach mbeidh siad ábalta dul i gcomórtas leis na monaplachtaí nua íosphá, a chuirfidh coinníollacha dona fostaíochta s'acu i bhfeidhm fud fad na hEorpa.


Go bunúsach, ní bheadh rialtas na hÉireann tofa go daonlathach in inmhe oibrithe agus tomhaltóirí in Éirinn a chosaint, fiú dá dtiocfaí cur ina luí air gur gá iarracht a dhéanamh.

Caithfear leanúint leis an fheachtas in aghaidh Treorach na Seirbhíse. Maise, caithfear cur leis an fheachtas má táimid le bheith dílis do na mílte sin a shiúil i Strasbourg an tseachtain seo caite le seirbhísí a Caithfidh siad siúd a ba mhaith leo Treoir na Seirbhísí a bheith buailte, caithfidh siad cinnte a dhéanamh go gcluinfear glóir s'acu sna seachtainí romhainn. Caithifh rialtas na hÉireann a chluinstin, go glórmhar agus go soiléir, nár mhaith libh go vótálfaidís ar son seo i gComhairle na nAirí. Caithfidh BPÉanna de chuid na hÉireann a chluinstin chomh glórmhar agus chomh soiléir chéanna nár mhaith libh go vótálfaimis ar son na Treorach seo sa vóta deiridh i bParlaimint na hÉorpa.

Fud fad na hÉireann tá daoine ag seasamh in éadan iad siúd a bhainfadh cearta s'acu ar shiúl - ó mhuintir Ros Dumhach go dtí na hoibrithe GAMA agus na mílte daoine a ghlac páirt in agóidí sráide le cur i gcoinne an bealach a caitheamh le fostaithe de chuid Irish Ferries agus iad ag éileamh nár chóir do dhuine ar bith glacadh le níos lú ná an íosphá - is cuma carb as dóibh.

Tá tús curtha leis an troid ar ais. Imrímis páirt s'againne.

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