Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Willie O’Dea TD has published the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2011, a Fianna Fáil Bill, which will be brought before the Dáil this evening in Private Members’ Business in order to protect vulnerable employees whose terms and conditions are covered by Joint Labour Committee structures, but are now threatened by the recent High Court judgement on the system.
 
Speaking upon publication this morning, Deputy O’Dea said: “The recent High Court ruling on JLCs has left many thousands of people in low paid jobs in a very vulnerable position, facing cuts in their pay and conditions in the weeks and months ahead.  The Government has reneged on its promise to immediately address this, so Fianna Fáil has taken the decision to introduce this emergency legislation to remove uncertainty and protect these people.”
 
Deputy O’Dea said: “It is simply not good enough for the Minister to say the situation is too complicated and leave these people exposed until the Government finds time in a busy Autumn / Winter schedule to address the problem.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) night Fine Gael and Labour will face a clear choice – put aside politics-as-usual and stand with those who need the protection of the JLC structures, or leave them high and dry.
 
“This should not be a party political issue.  We are being constructive, tabling practical legislation which addresses the issues raised in the High Court judgement.  While the legal action related to catering workers, its outcome has implications for almost 200,000 people whose minimum conditions and wages are set under the JLC system.”
 
The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2011 provides for the amendment of the Industrial Relations Acts of 1946 and 1990 so that the statutory mechanism in place for the fixing of remuneration by an Employment Regulation Order (ERO) is consistent with the requirements of Bunreacht na hÉireann.
 
Deputy O’Dea said: “Trade unions involved in representing employees in this area described the situation following the High Court ruling as “devastating” for employees as all those whose terms and conditions were covered by EROs on or before 7 July this year no longer have the statutory benefits of those EROs.  Similarly, there were many in the Labour Party who enjoyed media prominence when responding to the proposals of Richard Bruton to dismantle the system.  Their real test will come tomorrow night, when they can vote to support our Bill.”
 
“This legislation if enacted will enable the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton to make new Employment Regulation Orders in respect of all such employees under a new statutory mechanism that takes into account and rectifies the failings in the Acts of 1946 and 1990.
 
“Deputy O’Dea concluded: “The Bill also decriminalises any failure on the part of an employer to comply with an ERO (as recommended by the Duffy Walsh Report at Recommendation 19 of their Report) and replaces it with a civil enforcement mechanism.”

Read the Bill in full here: Industrial Relations Amendment Bill 2011 and explanatory memo here: Industrial Relations Amendment Bill 2011 Explanatory Memorandum.