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What is the point of Labour Party in Government? – Adams

15 April, 2015 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has asked what the point is of the Labour Party in government when it has failed to protect the most fundamental of rights for workers.

He said the dispute at Dunnes Stores concerned the poor treatment of workers which was a result of the Government’s failure to introduce anti-victimisation legislation.

Deputy Adams was speaking as Sinn Féin introduced a Dáil Private Members Bill on low hour contracts.

Deputy Adams said:

“Low pay and so-called ‘labour market flexibility’ are key elements in a vision for society manifested in the neo-liberal policies of this Government and their friends in the EU elite.

“Such a vision seeks to reverse the progress made over many decades in making life better for ordinary citizens.

“It seeks to stop parliaments or governments from acting first and foremost in the best interests of people. It attacks solidarity between citizens.

“If this vision had dominated in the past, we would not have seen the abolition of child labour; the introduction of the eight-hour working day; pensions for the elderly; the creation of the welfare state or the building of public health and education systems.

“It is a dark and selfish vision of society and it is one which Sinn Fein rejects.

“Sinn Féin has a different vision. We believe that we need to take our economy and our society in a better, more enlightened direction. Fundamentally, it is about creating a fair society.

“After four years in office and despite a Programme for Government commitment, this Government has failed to legislate for Collective Bargaining.

“It has also failed to introduce anti-victimisation legislation to protect vulnerable workers. And we have seen the inevitable outcome in the treatment of vulnerable, low-paid workers at Dunnes Stores and elsewhere.”

Mr Adams said that the prevalence of low paid work and zero hour contracts is undermining the chances of a fair recovery; a recovery that leaves no family behind.

He said the delay in completing the Government’s report on zero-hour contracts showed the lack of importance the Government attaches to this issue.

“All of this means that many people are asking the question – ‘What is the point of the Labour Party in Government?’ If Labour Party Ministers cannot defend  the most fundamental of workers’ rights, what is the point?”

“Sinn Féin’s Bill seeks to introduce an immediate ban on zero-hour contracts and demands the Government set a date for the introduction of Collective Bargaining legislation before the summer recess.

 “This Bill provides for trade union recognition and would compel employers to engage with trade unions. It has robust anti-victimisation clauses to protect workers, like those at Dunnes Stores, from intimidation.

“Fundamentally this Bill is about common decency for Irish workers. It offers a decent way forward for workers and employers and demands that Government faces up to its responsibilities.”

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