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Morgan questions Minister on media speculation regarding changes to Labour Inspectorate

23 March, 2006


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Employment and Workers Rights, Arthur Morgan TD, today questioned the Minister for Sate with responsibility for Labour Affairs, Tony Killeen TD, regarding reports in the media over the last week suggesting that the Government was on the verge of making proposals in relation to the labour inspectorate. Deputy Morgan had raised the understaffing of the labour inspectorate in light of the most recent revelation of exploitation of Polish workers employed by ZRE Katowice on the refurbishment of the Money Point ESB plant.

Deputy Morgan said, "The case of the workers being exploited at the Moneypoint refurbishment is a further example, if one were needed, of the fact that labour law is not being enforced. One of the reasons it is not being enforced is that is that there are not enough labour inspectors.

"At the end of 2005 there was a mere 31 labour inspectors for a workforce of 2.07 million, a ratio of 66,775 workers for every 1 inspector. The legislation which the inspectorate has responsibility for ensuring compliance with has grown considerably in recent years with no matching increase in numbers further contributing to the present difficulties

"There has been reports in the media over the last week suggesting that the Minister is on the verge of making proposals in relation to the labour inspectorate. Will he inform the House what these plans will involve?

"In early 2005 the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment circulate a report entitled Mandate and Resourcing of the Labour Inspectorate' to the social partners. Can the Minister tell the House what shortcoming in the current set up were identified by that report?

"What did that report recommend in relation to the mandate of the Labour Inspectorate? Did it recommend that the inspectorate be established as a statutory agency? Is this what the Minister is planning to do? Moves to strengthen and expand the labour inspectorate must not be out on hold to the end of social partnership talks which may go on for months. "

In response to Deputy Morgan, Minister of State Killeen indicated that changes would not take place in advance of the outcome of Social Partnership talks.

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