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Sinn Féin unveils measures to enhance workers’ rights – Tóibín

10 February, 2016

Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín has outline a suite of measures that Sinn Féin is committed to implement in government to enhance workers’ rights.

Speaking in Dublin this morning Deputy Tóibín said;

“According to Oxfam the richest 62 people in the world are as wealthy as half of world's population. 

“In Ireland the gap between rich and poor is also increasing with more than a third of all income consumed by top 10 per cent of earners. 

“One in five workers are in low pay and according to Tasc Ireland is the most unequal economy in Europe with regards how we distribute income. 

“Under FG and Labour there has been a proliferation of unpaid internships and low hour contracts. 

“Fine Gael and Labour binned the Sunday Premium triggering effective pay cuts for over 200,000 low paid workers. 

“Insecure and precarious work is now becoming the norm amongst thousands of families in this state. The human effect of this has been pressure on workers and their families, who are unable to plan childcare and their finances from week to week.

“This is not business as usual. The over concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer is intensifying in our generation and it is openly being facilitated by Fine Gael and Labour government.   

“The drivers of this are austerity, two tier public services and worker’s pay and conditions.    

“There is an onus on us all going forward is bring an end to the exploitation and intimidation of workers and to ensure that work pays.

“It is estimated that there are 27,000 subcontractors in the construction industry who are in bogus self-employment

“In other words these are workers who should be employed directly but are forced into subcontracting to allow some contractors shirk their responsibilities such as the minimum wage, employer PRSI, illness benefit and jobseekers benefit. 

“Shockingly, in the Kishoge case, we saw workers being paid just €5 an hour. It is also reasonably estimated that €640 million since 2007 has been lost to the state due to the loss of PRSI contributions.  

“Zero and Low Hour Contracts have become endemic.  In Dunnes Stores a very profitable company involved in the widespread use of short-hour contracts, and as a consequence employees don’t know from one week to the next what shifts they have or the income they will earn. 

“Some 20% of those signing on are on in low hour work. In-work social protection supports such as Family Income Support are vital to ensure families can put food on the table and keep a roof over their head, but these payments are also a government subsidy to businesses regardless of their profitability. Low Hour Contracts cost the tax payer money.

“What was the Labour Party’s response? They commissioned a report on the subject. When asked would any of the recommendations of the report be implemented the Minister for Tea and Sympathy Jed Nash said no. 

“We in Sinn Féin’s produced banded hour’s contract legislation which would provide a right for an employee or their trade union representative to request additional weekly hours within contained banded hours, and a corresponding obligation on the employer to not just consider the request but to act on it unless there are justifiable financial grounds for not doing so. 

“In government we will tackle the uncertainty created by insecure and low-hour contracts by introducing legislation that provides for Fair Hours contracts. 

“Six months after the Tactical Insolvency at Clerys that cost the state millions of euro and threw workers out on the ear and stuffed concession holders, Labour have in fairness have upped their game compared with how they handled zero hour contracts. They have decided to hold two reviews, instead of one. Still no legislation. 

“We in Sinn Féin on the other hand introduced legislation into the Dáil that would see the corporate veil pierced preventing these actions again.  

“Sinn Fein have introduced legislation which makes it unlawful to compile, use, sell or supply blacklists containing details of trade union members who are taking part, or have taken part, in trade union activities, including industrial or strike action. We will do so again in government.

“We will ensure activation schemes are of high quality and support job creation by shutting down the JobBridge and Gateway schemes and making greater use of the JobsPlus and Community Employment Schemes.”

A better deal for workers:

We will increase the National Minimum Wage to €9.65 an hour and continue to track the hourly rate against median earnings and the cost of living.

We support the introduction of a ‘Living Wage’, and as a first step towards its introduction we will make the public sector a Living Wage employer.

We will amend industrial relations legislation to provide for mandatory trade union recognition and collective bargaining rights.

We will tackle the uncertainty created by insecure and low-hour contracts by introducing legislation that provides for Fair Hours contracts.

We will strengthen compliance and enforcement of employment and workers’ rights through legislative changes and by providing additional resources to the Workplace Relations Commission Inspection Services.

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