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Government lip service on labour law - Morgan

7 November, 2006

Sinn Féin Enterprise spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has accused the Government of paying lip service to labour law and of being complicit in a 'workplace culture of bullying, inequality and discrimination'. He was speaking following claims by Minister Mícheál Martin that workplace inspections this year were six times those in 2005, and the publication of a number of reports today on discrimination against women and immigrant workers, as well as violence in the workplace.

The Louth TD said: "Minister Martin's claim to RTE that six times more workplace inspections have taken place in 2006 over 2005 is mystifying. According to figures given in the Dáil by Minister for Labour Affairs Tony Killeen in March, there had been 2,985 inspections by that time. The total number of inspections for 2005 was 5,170. Incidentally, this is 68% of what inspections were in 2002. Is the Minister really trying to tell us that there have been almost 30,000 extra inspections since March?

"The reality is that with 31 inspectors to a workforce of 2.07 million people, each inspector is responsible for 66,775 workers. I would call, as I have done in the past, for the Government commitment to expansion of the Labour Inspectorate to be fast-tracked and delivered as quickly as possible. Enforcement of labour law in this state is currently a joke, and there is a wealth of reports today to prove the point to the Minister.

"According to a report from the ESRI, insults or other forms of harassment at work are the second most common form of discrimination against immigrants with 32 per cent of work permit holders across all groups having reported it.

"The European Working Conditions Survey will today report that out of 27 European states, Irish workplaces are in the top three most violent and workers are twice as likely to experience violence, and three times as likely to be threatened with it, as other EU countries.

"Reported today by the Ireland Salary Survey, women working in the financial sector are earning up to €20,000 less than their male colleagues.

"This is the real world for Irish workers. By refusing to enforce labour law or monitor violations of it, the Government is sending a nod and a wink to exploitative employers that they have very little to fear from this Government. It is complicit in a workplace culture of bullying, inequality and discrimination Far from defending the rights of workers, this Government does no more than pay lip service."


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