Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Dara Calleary has criticised the Government for dragging its heels on employee protection legislation. Deputy Calleary has urged Fine Gael and Labour TDs to support the Protection of Employees (Amendment) Bill 2012 in the Dáil tonight, with a view to amending the technical flaws at Committee Stage.

 

Speaking on the Sinn Féin Bill last night, Deputy Calleary said, “I am struck by the fact the Dáil is in its summer session and that it was at the end of the corresponding session last year that the Minister Richard Bruton brought forward his original proposals in respect of the Labour Relations Commission and JLC agreements.  At that time the Labour backbenchers engaged in a May Day revolution.  It is almost one year on but matters have not moved on. 

 

“There is a need to provide protection to the workers who have been affected in the meantime by the closures in Vita Cortex, Lagan Brick, Irish Cement, TalkTalk and La Senza. We have not yet put in place the protections to avoid that small number of employers sullying the great cause of the majority of employers.

 

“I was particularly struck by the TalkTalk closure. I visited TalkTalk several years ago when it received an excellence through people award, such was the quality of its employees’ skills.  However management in this UK company turned its back at an hour’s notice on those hundreds of employees in Waterford. 

 

“The majority of employers work within the law.  At present, the majority of self-employed persons are probably not taking wages from their own businesses in an attempt to keep those businesses afloat and to retain people in employment.

 

“When we have a gap in our employee protection legislation that allows such events as the TalkTalk closure occur while Ministers and officers of the State can only look on in wonder and disgust, Parliament has a duty to act. 

 

“I know the difficulties around re-engineering the employment rights bodies and JLCs are significant.  We have identified a specific gap in the legislation which has been disgracefully exploited by foreign multinationals.  If this were a gap in criminal law, we would act with emergency legislation very quickly.  As it is employment law, the same urgency is not there even though the consequences for other workers when losing their jobs are as great.

 

“The Bill is technically flawed with many difficulties.  However, that is what Committee Stage is about – to debate every aspect of a Bill.  If the Government had the courage to carry it on to Committee Stage and put forward amendments to deal with the technical flaws, then instead of sending good wishes to the Vita Cortex and Lagan Brick workers we could actually do something for them and avoid it happening again.”