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Lahart, John

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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017\Second Stage
Bills\Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017\Second Stage

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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Snippet Contents:

I thank Deputy Moynihan for sharing time with me. While I was in the Chair a number of the points I had intended to make were repeated many times on this side of the House and so I was deliberating on whether I ought to repeat them again. For the purpose of reinforcing the argument coming from this side of the House, I will repeat some of them.
My colleague, Deputy Moynihan, mentioned the CE scheme. I had a case in respect of which my engagement with the Minister's predecessor was going forwards and backwards for so long I raised it with the Ombudsman, who I think is investigating the matter. I am struck by how far we have moved away, almost unconsciously, from common decency when it comes to employment. That is a reflection not on the Minister but society. Public servants take their terms of pay and conditions for granted. I choose public servants only because they enjoy permanent employment.
When it comes to people in the private sector who enjoy permanent employment we do not question the things that they expect as a matter of right. I was self-employed and I know that the Minister was too. People in so-called good jobs came to expect these rights which were fought for over generations by trade unionists and organisations that worked on behalf of labour, including pensions, sick leave, maternity leave, compassionate leave, leave of absence and holiday pay. These are things which as a young man, and now as an older man, I took for granted. In this Bill, there has been a slide away from those expectations, which again is not a reflection on the Minister personally or politically. Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts has written about this. Obviously, it would be more pronounced in the United States. In one of her books she references the erosion of the middle class, which is a little more subtle here.
One of the Impact representatives I met spoke of a time that resonated with me. On one income he raised a family. He lived in a modest three or four bedroom, semi-detached house in Dublin in my constituency. The family went on holidays and one or two of the children went to college. He did all of that on one salary. He was what we would call a white collar worker, or somewhere between a white collar and a blue collar worker. Elizabeth Warren makes the point in one of her books that since the 1960s and the 1970s the cost of living has risen substantially for people. Working couples nowadays are bringing in two incomes but they have twice the expenses. They have a mortgage and child care costs, which is equivalent to another mortgage. I make this point because the Minister is tasked with the responsibility for maintaining these standards and maintaining the protections that generations of people, including trade unions, fought for. There are a lot of union representatives in my family on the teaching side. Trade unions fought for what people up to this generation have come to appreciate and understand are basic rights that will continue into the future.