For Better Pay and Job Security

Ged Nash TD
27 January 2020

Labour Party Employment spokesperson Ged Nash outlined Labour’s proposals for better pay and job security including a real living wage, a right to trade union representation in the workplace, flexible work arrangements and an examination of the four-day week.

Senator Nash said:

“Labour wants a radical shift in how we approach employment to ensure that work always pays. We have a real problem with low pay in this country affecting nearly 1 in 4 workers who earn less than two-thirds of median hourly earnings. Too many families struggle, relying on supports such as the Working Family Payment to make ends meet. That is why we will change the law and instruct the Low Pay Commission to create a path to a real living wage in excess of two-thirds of the median hourly earnings, and importantly ensure that the rate never falls below that threshold of decency. 

“The Labour Party is also proposing that the delivery of full trade union and collective bargaining rights must be at the core of any agreement Labour might reach in the next Dáil. The societies and economies that do best are those where people are free not just to join a trade union, but have an unambiguous legal right to be represented by their union in negotiations on pay and conditions.

“The most sustainable way to make work pay and to tackle income inequality is not through tax cuts and transfers where the State is obliged to do much of the heavy lifting but ensuring Ireland adheres to European norms. That is why Labour will guarantee everyone the right to be represented at work by a trade union and employers will be obliged to negotiate with those representatives, ensuring the right of access for trade union reps to workplaces too.”

“The nature of work is also changing. Far too many people are living to work rather than working to live. This trend is destroying lives and relationships, affecting our health and the time we get to spend with our families and friends. For a better work life balance Labour will bring in new laws to access the right to flexible work. Ireland is almost unique in the EU in that this right does not currently exist in Irish law.

“We believe now is the time to properly examine the case for a Four Day working week – on the same pay. Significant evidence suggests that where a four day week has been introduced, it has led to better productivity, an improved bottom line, less stress and greater levels of staff engagement and staff retention. We will also introduce a ‘right to disconnect’ to make sure that exciting new technologies work for us in making work less intensive, rather than us being enslaved by the always on culture.”

ENDS
Notes to Editors: Please see below some of Labour’s manifesto proposals for Better Pay and Job Security. A PDF of the launch policy document on Better Pay and Job Security is available here: 

https://www.labour.ie/download/pdf/better_pay_job_security_web.pdf 

BETTER PAY, JOB SECURITY

Ireland is now a prosperous country but there is still a large and growing wealth gap between rich and poor. We are living longer, young people have many more opportunities, and the economy now provides 2.3 million jobs. But despite these positive developments, we still face major challenges. Nearly a quarter of workers are on low pay, and many jobs are insecure. Labour’s vision for 2030 is Ireland as an equal society, in which all workers are paid at least a living wage and have job security.

Labour will raise the minimum wage to be a real living wage. The Low Pay Commission will have the role of setting out how the minimum wage will remain above two-thirds of median income, as it was originally in 2000, and sufficient to provide a minimum essential standard of living. 

Labour will guarantee everyone the right to be represented at work by a trade union, and employers will be required to negotiate with their employee’s representatives. We will ensure a right of access for trade union representatives to workplaces, including through constitutional change if required. We will also reform Joint Labour Committees so they are not prevented from meeting if either side refuses to attend.

Labour will tackle the gig economy. We will eliminate bogus self-employment and ‘if and when’ arrangements and we will enforce a right to certainty of working hours for people in precarious employment.

Labour will introduce a right to flexible working hours where an employer only has to make a reasonable adjustment to allow for them, to reduce stress and wasted time from commuting, and to facilitate work-life balance for parents and carers in particular.

Labour will introduce two new public holidays, to bring Ireland up to the European average of 11 paid public holidays.

Labour will review the evidence for a shorter working week without loss of pay, including approaches such as the six-hour day and the four-day week, and we will implement findings that are consistent with good work-life balance, high productivity and safeguarding worker’s pay levels.

Labour will implement a right to disconnect for employees to switch off from work email and phone calls when outside of work hours and when not compensated for this extra activity.

Labour will maintain the State Pension age at 66, end compulsory retirement at 65 in employment contracts, and provide a transition payment.

Labour will initiate a Maximum Employment Strategy, aiming for an unemployment rate below 4%, implement a regional jobs strategy and a right to lifelong learning, fully implement the employment strategy for people with disabilities, and  expand the number and types of apprenticeships and traineeships that are available, strengthen measures to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers.

Labour will restore tax relief for trade union membership on the same basis as professional association fees.

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