Subsidy to privately run remote work hubs must not be dressed up as support for workers

22 February 2022

• Govt on backfoot with biggest workplace advancement
• Workers must be given priority in any govt intervention

Labour employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock has this morning expressed concern about government’s proposed air miles subsidy. In advance of publishing employee-first flexible work legislation this week, Senator Sherlock said the proposed subsidy to private remote work hubs must not be dressed up as encouragement to remote work for workers.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The remote hubs air miles subsidy proposed by government represents yet another sticking plaster on the government’s remote work strategy.

“Once again, we’re seeing government opt to waste money by putting all the emphasis and the power in the hands of business and supporting the temporary work office model, rather than actually fixing the underlying issues at play.

“While we are always supportive of initiatives that provide strong broadband connectivity in parts of the country where the infrastructure cannot cope with the demands, this solution will not be and cannot be perceived to be a silver bullet.

“Indeed when you drill down to the detail on this, we’re left with more questions than answers. Of the 193 co-working hubs listed in the connected hubs app, many are not run or owned by the State but by private owners. What’s more, many are located where broadband is not an issue. Therefore we need to understand the value of what government is proposing to rural workers. This cannot be another free for all for business and private interests.

“Last night, Minister Humphreys said that €100 million of tax payers money has already been spent on remediating old buildings for remote work hubs. Any additional direct supports must go into accelerating the number of State-owned hubs throughout the country and reducing the cost per day to workers opting to use them.

“The government have come to remote and flexible working on the backfoot. We in the Labour Party are committed to working to achieve meaningful progress for all remote and flexible workers. To achieve this, the priority must rest with the people working from home and using these hubs. Anything else is just a white wash and free for all for private interests.”

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