10 April 2017

Labour Party spokesperson on Workers’ Rights and Labour Affairs, Senator Ged Nash, has said we must find new ways to tackle precarious work and false and dependent self-employment with the rise of the gig economy.

The sharp growth of work practices without clearly defined contractual relationships which are operating at the very edge of the law presents a unique challenge for legislators trying to secure a level playing field for workers and businesses, Senator Nash said:

“Making work pay and dignity at work agenda was a cornerstone of our work while in government and continues to be at the very heart of Labour’s work in the Oireachtas and across the country.

“This was reflected in new and empowering collective bargaining legislation; the re-establishment of Joint Labour Committees which has seen radical improvements to the pay and terms and conditions of contract cleaners and security workers; the reintroduction of a Registered Employment Agreement System and a new Sectoral Employment Order system; the establishment of the Low Pay Commission and two significant increases to the National Minimum Wage.

“In opposition, Labour is still delivering for working people with Senator Ivana Bacik’s Competition (Amendment) Bill 2016 which restores collective bargaining rights to freelance workers in the media and culture sectors likely to become law before the summer recess.

“It is the case that too many people work without any knowledge of how much, if any, work they will have the following week. People need security and stability in their working lives.

”There is a profound difference between flexible work arrangements that are freely negotiated, to mutual benefit, and multi-nationals hiring huge chunks of their workforce on low-hour, if-and-when contracts.

“Part-time work, fixed-term contracts, agency work and, in recent times with the large-scale adoption of smartphones, the so-called gig economy, have been part of a trend of casualisation of workforces in many countries. This is having a huge effect on living standards and on social cohesion.

“Certainty over hours of work, security in terms of income and a right to have the reality of your working hours reflected in your written contract is the very least someone who works for a living should be entitled to in law.”

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