New social dialogue only acceptable if it tackles low pay and insecure work

04 March 2020

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: For Labour’s Future – NEWS RELEASE

EMBARGO: Not for publication/broadcast before 00.01 am Thursday 5th March 2020

Labour should only back a return to a structured social dialogue in Ireland if it begins by tackling low pay and insecure work, according to Labour leadership contender Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

Speaking ahead of the Party’s second leadership hustings, which take place in Dublin this evening (Thursday), the Dublin Bay North TD said that IBEC chief executive Danny McCoy had placed a heavy emphasis on “incentivising business” through the tax system when he called for renewed social dialogue last month.

“Labour should support genuine social dialogue, which exists in some form in most European countries. But we cannot return to the model of social partnership, based on wage moderation and tax cuts, which vastly reduced the scope for investment in public services by running down the Irish tax base for over two decades.

“I will support a dialogue between government, unions, business and civil society if it genuinely addresses the huge burdens on workers, their families and their communities.

“Most of these problems – like housing, affordable childcare, decent health services and sustainable public transport in cities, towns and rural areas – require substantial state investment, which will never be possible if the priority is running down the tax base to incentivise business.

“Others, like the fact that 25% of Irish workers are in low-paid jobs, could be tackled through social dialogue if business leaders were interested in finding real solutions.

“And real social dialogue would also address the scandal that 40% of workers aged under 30 – the same people that are locked out of the housing market – are in so-called atypical work. A recent report by the trade union-backed Nevin Economic Research Institute says the norm for young workers is shifting towards part-time work because the number of full-time permanent jobs is falling,” he said.

Ó Ríordán placed workers’ rights, including establishing a legal right to be represented by a trade union, at the centre of his policy platform when he launched his Labour leadership campaign on 21st February.

He said: “It’s time to end the employers’ veto on the right to have a union bargain on your behalf. As Labour leader I will legislate to establish a right for all workers to be represented by a union. If this is deemed unconstitutional, we will build a movement in support of a referendum to give people the right to be represented by a trade union. This will demand hard work and courage, just like when we achieved marriage equality and repealed the eighth amendment. Labour will lead the argument with our colleagues in the trade union movement, and we will win.”

Further information: Bernard Harbor – 087-230-1262

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