Labour believes in opportunity for all, not just for a few – Burton

09 February 2016

Speaking at the launch of “Launching a Skills Revolution” – Labour’s plan for a living wage and skills investment

I’m delighted to be here today in Clúid, a Living Wage employer.

And just today, we had another employer, Cornmarket, follow the lead of Clúid, SSE, Aldi, IKEA, Lidl, Dublin Food Co-op and Oxfam.

All those employers are now Living Wage employers.

The Living Wage concept is a key element of the plan we are launching today.

And absolutely central to the plan, in every respect, is the concept of opportunity.

Growing up in a working-class community, I saw the struggle that families without work had to endure.

As a result, I’ve an abiding belief in the importance of jobs and opportunity.

Secure and fairly paid work is the single best protection against poverty.

The single best path to increased prosperity.

And that’s why I joined the Labour Party.

Because the Labour Party is the party of work, the party of opportunity.

We believe in opportunity for all, not just for a few.

Our mission is to sustain the recovery and spread the benefits to every household, every community.

That starts with employment.

The result of Fianna Fail driving the economy over a cliff was an unemployment rate of more than 15%.

Jobs were being lost at the rate of a thousand a week.

Today, thanks to the recovery being driven by Labour in Government, jobs are being added at a rate of a thousand a week.

We’ve added 135,000 new jobs in all.

And unemployment is down to 8.6%.

But we’ve more work to do, and that’s where our plan comes in.

Our priority is a job for everyone who wants one by 2018.

But those jobs must be fairly paid and secure jobs.

Fianna Fail slashed the minimum wage.

Labour in Government has already increased it – twice.

It now stands at €9.15 an hour.

And our commitment in this plan is that we’ll work to increase the minimum wage to a Living Wage.

Sufficient to meet basic needs, such as housing, food, clothing, transport and healthcare.

We will direct the Low Pay Commission to target a minimum wage of 60% of median earnings by 2021.

This would be equivalent to €11.30 per hour in today’s value.

Labour will ensure that Government leads by example – we will work to make the State a living wage employer by 2018.

Good jobs and a living wage are essential elements of our plan.

I also want to see every young person having a range of opportunities, from college to work-place training.

So we’ll create 50,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships to give young people choice in how they build their careers.

There is also a need to help people already in work to reskill and upskill.

So we will introduce 100,000 new free part-time education places.

These will be provided through the Springboard, Momentum and eCollege programmes.

They will ensure that people already in work can afford to upskill and develop their career prospects.

Opportunity lies at the heart of all these steps.

I want to see a social recovery as well as an economic recovery.

That means everybody and every community sharing in recovery, sharing in renewed prosperity.

Labour will stand up for working people by providing more jobs.

We will ensure that work always pays, and provide dignity at work.

And we’ll do that by investing in skills and investing in people.

We’ll ensure we realise the decade of opportunity ahead of us.

ENDS

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