Government must take concrete action to protect low paid workers

28 July 2020

The Government must take concrete action to protect low paid workers according to Labour Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Senator Marie Sherlock.


Sherlock was speaking after a report by the Economic and Social Research Institute ESRI found that frontline workers who tend to be in lower paid and less secure professions, but are considered among the most essential to the economic and social health of Ireland, face the highest risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19 infection.


Senator Sherlock said:


“In order to truly value essential workers and in particular the lower paid ones, we need a complete change of mindset that puts the onus on employers to do the right thing and indeed allows and encourages them to do the right thing because of downward competitive pressure on labour costs in certain sectors in this country.


 “We need to see proper pay and conditions for low paid workers and that involves Government doing all it can to support wage agreements for low paid workers, ending the employer veto over Joint Labour Committees and that it directs the Low Pay Commission to end its current impasse and issue clear recommendations about the improvement of low pay and importantly that it begins to recognise and respect the critical role played by carers in our country.


“The Government needs to look at how it spends its €12bn in public procurement each year, and needs to ensure that money is spent on sectors that pay decent wage and conditions and needs to look at how it can impose social and environmental clauses in public contracts.


“Crucially, there is high correlation between living in disadvantaged areas and cramped conditions. If the Government is serious about providing decent housing for lower paid workers, then it must ramp up investment into social and affordable housing, and immediately suspend any proposals for co-living units.

Senator Sherlock continued:

“It is all good and well paying lip service to essential workers but as the findings of this report outline, they are the ones most at risk from adverse outcomes because of Covid-19. The Government must take concrete action on pay and conditions but also ensure that low paid workers have access to decent housing and healthcare.


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