No Cash without Conditions – Labour tables amendments to Finance bill

29 July 2020
  • Labour says Financial Provisions (Covid-19) Bill should be amended to better protect workers in bailed out firms

 Labour’s Finance spokesperson Ged Nash TD has brought forward amendments to today’s Finance Bill that would see strict social and employment conditions attached to access to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and the new Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme. 

Speaking on the Dáil debate, he explained:

“It is heartening that the government has taken on our proposal for a new German style short-time working scheme to help badly hit sectors engage and retain staff.

“However, with billions being pumped into life support for businesses the government has blown a golden opportunity to reshape the economy by failing to any attach any decent work or training conditions to bailouts for business.

“The Government should not be subsidising in-work poverty, precarious working conditions and firms who refuse to engage with workers’ representatives to set a bare minimum of employment standards.

“Likewise, the new Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) should not be abused by employers who may wish to displace staff with cheaper new hires, backed up by a bag of cash from the taxpayer.

“However, under this Fine-Gael led version of the EWSS, an employer will receive a larger taxpayer subsidy if they hire two minimum wage workers on 15-20 hours per week, as opposed to one full-time worker.

“This may work for the employer, but how can any worker survive doing 15 hours on only €10.10 per hour?

“And it is these low paid workers who are most at risk to the health and economic impacts of Covid-19 as yesterday’s ESRI report has shown, yet this doesn’t seem to even register with this Government.

“The priorities of the scheme as it currently stands are simply all wrong.  Fine Gael want the taxpayer to pick up the tab of their low-wage economic model which socialises costs while allowing the profits to be privatised.

Nash continued:

“That is why I have proposed that there should be no cash without conditions and no wage subsidy without strict eligibility criteria that protects both jobs, the worker and their wages.

“In short, any business accessing the wage support or debt warehousing schemes should be commit to engaging in collective bargaining, prove that they pay their staff the legal minimum rates of pay that apply to their sector and ensure that recommendations from the industrial relations institutions of the State are respected and implemented.

“We now have a chance to move away from the low pay and precarious work model and to make a post-pandemic Ireland economically fairer. The opportunity must be grasped with both hands.”

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