Labour launch workers charter and commit to increase minimum wage

12 January 2016

Speaking today at Labour’s launch of a workers charter – ‘Standing Up For Working People’ – the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, and the Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD committed to increasing Minimum Wage to €11.30 over lifetime of next Government.

In addition, they outlined the Labour Party’s plans to continue to stand up for working people if returned to Government and end abuse of “if and when” contracts and bogus self-employment.

Labour’s plan for fairness and decency at work outlines the party’s commitments to ensure that work always pays and to further promote worker protections. The plan will form a key plank of the party’s manifesto in the upcoming general election.

Building on the work already done in relation to pay, Labour will:

– Increase the minimum wage until it is pegged at 60% of median earnings
– Ensure that the State and all State agencies become Living Wage employers by 2018
– Introduce a new auto enrolment pensions system to ensure proper pension provision for every worker

Labour is also committed to further protecting and promoting workers’ rights. It will:

– End the abuse of “if and when” contracts
– Combat bogus self-employment
– Ensure freelance workers have the right to collectively bargain
– Extend the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE) to workers in services such as catering and security
– Shield workers from ‘informal’ insolvency
– Legislate for statutory redress for the victims of workplace bullying
– Protect and promote employment standards and the Living Wage in public procurement
– Prevent unilateral pay reductions

These commitments build on the “Dignity of Work” agenda promoted by Minister Nash. Labour in Government has introduced new Collective Bargaining legislation and wage setting mechanisms; a second increase in the National Minimum Wage to €9.15 came into effect on the 1st of January; 50,000 contract cleaners and security workers received a pay rise on the 1st of October through the newly re-constituted JLC system. The first Government forum on a Living Wage campaign was held in Dublin Castle and more employers are declaring their support for paying their staff enough to live on.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said, “Workers are entitled to expect fairness and decency in their workplaces. Good workplaces are not just beneficial for employees – they are good for business and our economy as a whole.”

“If re-elected to Government we will direct the Low Pay Commission to bring the National Minimum Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2021. This would bring it to approximately €11.30 per hour in today’s terms. We will lead by example in relation to our campaign on the Living Wage by ensuring that the State and all of its agencies become Living Wage employers by 2018.”

The Tánaiste continued, “Alongside tackling low pay and promoting a Living Wage, we must address the root causes of insecurity at work, which cause too many workers anxiety about how to pay their bills and look after their families. To that end, if re-elected to Government, Labour will end exploitative employment contracts and bogus self-employment. We will work to stamp out bullying in the workplace and ensure that an adequate system of redress, underpinned by new legislation, is available to the victims of bullying.”

Minister Nash said, “Workers have the right to expect a fair income, security in the workplace and the chance to improve their personal circumstances and opportunities. We have achieved a lot in our term of office and have fiercely protected and indeed enhanced workers’ rights while other countries took the opportunity of the worldwide economic collapse to hollow out employment protections. That’s the value of Labour in Government.”

“While I understand the need for flexibility and adaptability in the workplace, this should never be at the entire expense of the rights of workers. Too many people are still going to bed on a Sunday night, not knowing what hours they will work the next week and whether they will have enough money to pay their bills.”

“Ireland can be the best small country in which to do business and at the same time be the best country in which to work and raise a family. These are not competing or contradictory principles.”

Minister Nash concluded, “Labour in the next Government will legislate to allow self-employed freelancers to collectively bargain; we will also extend the law which protects employees when the business that employs them is sold to include contract workers such as cleaners or security staff. We will also amend legislation to cover informal insolvencies, when business owners simply walk away, to ensure that their employees can also access the State’s insolvency fund.”

Link to workers charter:  https://www.labour.ie/download/pdf/labour_workers_charter_2016.pdf

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