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Sinn Féin Bill links arts funding to the upholding of workers’ rights –Tóibín

7 February, 2018

Sinn Féin Bill links arts funding to the upholding of workers’ rights –Tóibín

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Deputy Peadar Tóibín, has today introduced a Bill to enable the Arts Council as an additional safeguard ensuring that funding is contingent on compliance with employment law.

This would mean that those in receipt of funding from the Arts Council who break employment law, and do not act on recommendations of the Workplace Relations Commission, could have their funds withdrawn.  

Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Tóibín said:

“Minister, in the last few months a number of women have stood up and identified sexual harassment and bullying at the highest reaches of our cultural institutions. That it took these women to use the front pages of newspapers to achieve justice and a work place free from harassment of bullying is a clear sign that the laws and regulatory and oversight bodies are not working.   

“The relevant Ministers have hidden behind that argument that there much employment law and that there are regulatory bodies such as the Work Place Relations Commission to deal with the problem.

“However, this argument misses the point somewhat. The Arts sector does not operate like other employment sectors. It is hammered by precarious working conditions. These precarious working conditions accentuate the power differentials between management and employees which in my view can lead to a septic culture in certain situations.

“Irish Equity recently carried out a survey of the Theatre sector which found almost 60 per cent of those surveyed said they had been bullied but that almost 75 per cent had not reported it because they feared it might jeopardise future work opportunities.

“These are shocking figures in any sector. Figures that should have been a call to action for the government, especially given that this sector is support by so much government funding.

“However, I understand that when Karen O’Loughlin from Irish Equity went to the Arts Council in 2016, the Arts Council stated that the issue was none of their business. 

“Let me say loud and clear here today, Minister, the mistreatment of workers in Irish society is your business. This Bill that we submit here today enables the Arts Council to ensure that funding in this sector is contingent on compliance with employment law.”

Note: Please see the Bill in question attached  

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