The rubicon has been crossed for decently paid workers

31 January 2024
  • Distorted housing market now means that workers on single or combined income of €100,000 cannot afford homes in two thirds of Dublin postcodes.
  • Growing inequality of power within workplaces in how workers are been managed, monitored and remunerated at work. Government must legislate to protect workers.
  • Best bulwark against feeling of frustration among workers, against inequality within workplace is to ensure workers can collectively bargain. Government must legislate for right to organise.

Speaking at the Jim Larkin Commemoration yesterday in Glasnevin Cemetery, Labour’s workers rights spokesperson Marie Sherlock called out the extent to which the housing market is now distorted called for clear legislation to protect workers with the advent of major technological change within our workplaces.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The rubicon has now been crossed for decently paid workers in Dublin. Whereas previously, €100,000 was seen as the starting point of high pay, now it is is the situation that a single or combined income of €100,000 plus €40,000 in savings is still not enough to buy the average three bed house across two thirds of the post codes in Dublin.

“We cant underestimate the psychological blow this presents to workers in this city and it is an indication of just how desperate the housing situation is for low income workers in this city.”

Sherlock also spoke of the impact that technological advances are having in the workplace and the positive transformative impact these changes can have. However she cautioned that that Government must not sit on its hands but must put protections in place.

“Despite the establishment of an expert working group on AI and lots of talk by Ministers about it, the reality is that Government policy is to effectively sit back and wait for EU’s AI Directive to be introduced.

“We believe Ireland must forge ahead in ensuring that AI is regulated at source. I believe we are very close to seeing it in every workplace and in order to properly protect and control the use of technology within our workplaces, within our media, clear legislative responsibilities and safeguards are set down at development stage with regard to future uses of the technology.

“It is important to note that Spain have already moved ahead in setting up a AI supervisory agency and it has published draft legislation tightly regulating image and voice simulations.

“There is also a glaring need to regulate the use of algorithms in determining allocation of work, performance and pay.

“Labour introduced legislation on this in 2021 which Government have ignored.

“Government’s true colours were exposed just before Christmas when they voted down the EU Draft Directive on Platform work which would have introduced safeguards and transparency into algorithmic use within workplaces.”

Finally, Sherlock noted that a sense of frustration and a sense of powerlessness among workers, in their workplaces and in their communities presents a great challenge at this point in time; a frustration that can be harnessed to push for good or one that can be exploited by those in the far right with no interest in workers’ rights but who will all too easily exploit a sense of grievance.

“The best bulwark against this sense of powerlessness and this exploitation of powerlessness is to give workers a greater power in being able to shape their incomes, their progression and their own destiny – that means power in our local democracy, power within workplaces and power at central Government.

“Government can start by ensuring that workers have a greater say within their workplaces and can collectively bargain.

“To effectively collectively bargain, we must see a change in our laws to ensure workers and unions have a right to organise.”

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