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McGrath, Mattie

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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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Senator


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Deputy Mattie McGrath

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Mattie McGrath

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Snippet Contents:

I thank the Minister. Normally the Minister nods when she agrees with me but she was doing something else so I thought she was saying she did not agree with me. That is grand. We will accept that. As I said, a quarter of all employees working nine to 18 hours per week are in wholesale or retail with another 17% working in health. A significant proportion of those who work 19 to 35 hours per week are in education and health. They are also in our nursing homes, which we badly need. I meet them all the time. There are a lot of staff in nursing homes who work very hard and they do not have many hours. I know nursing homes are normally small entities or a family business and it is difficult but they are a very important area. We will all end up there. We do not want to say anything in here that might bite us when we end up there. "Be nice to your kids, they pick your nursing home" - that is what stickers on the back of cars say.
We need to have respect for workers. It is a two-way street. If an employer respects workers, they will respect the job and be dedicated to it. It is not acceptable as I said. The penalties included in the Bill are too weak. As I said, we need real penalties that have teeth. We need to send a message to big employers, of which there are many. They are greedy and driven by greed. It is a race to the bottom. They abuse staff and do not respect them. We should send the message that it will not be tolerated. It is a land where we respect and value our workers and families. People will not be able to get a loan. We know that. How will they get a county council loan or any kind of credit union loan? The penalties included in the Bill still leave huge voids for people to get loans to be able to carry on in a small business or to repair their house or get on the market. It is a two-way street.
Employers must be respectful and vice versa. If that is the case, one will have a flourishing and happy company with good dialogue. Some companies might not even be unionised but there is respect. It is a two-way street and the workers go the extra mile when the pressure is on. That is especially true in the service industry when they have to respond to different situations whether it is after storms or different climatic conditions or perform seasonal work. When people are on zero-hours contracts and are threatened and cajoled and told they will lose some hours if they do not comply, it creates hostile and poor relations in a company. A company like that will not flourish.
There has to be a good environment with robust debate like we have here most times. I salute employers like SuperValu and even Marks and Spencer. I was in SuperValu in Carrick-on-Suir last week and was pleasantly told by one of the smiling staff that there were 90 staff and they are all very happy people. I could see that when I walked around and experienced the ambience of the shop. It is the same in SuperValu in Clonmel, Cahir and Tipperary Town and all the ones I go into. I salute them for that.
I heard a very wonderful interview on radio one morning with former Senator Feargal Quinn and his son. I think it was "Miriam Meets" He was a powerful man and so were his forefathers. I think he is the fourth or fifth generation. The way they treated their staff and customers is what we need. We do not need mollycoddling and dancing around with each other and hugs and kisses. We need honest, decent and respectful work and honest, decent wages within the limitations of what the company is doing. One will always find that workers will be understanding in those situations. They put their shoulders to the wheel. They have understanding if we meet lean times or difficult times. There will be a better outcome.
We need to let the axe fall where it should fall and it needs to fall on a lot of them. Many of the companies that built our motorways - not many but a lot of them - now have issues with the quality of work. They get these Government tenders. We saw it today with the ferry for Tory Island in Donegal going in at ridiculously low prices. I salute the people we met today and anyone in the business. Hundreds of them came here. They could not all be from the island or they would have three times the population they do. If there were that many, Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher would have a bridge built out to the island to go out canvassing. They have that little ferry and they know the lowest price is not the best. With eTenders we are getting companies coming in here and showing scant regard for Irish employees and tradespersons who are scarce commodities at the moment. I ask the Minister to support the trades because we need to get people back into trades as well.
As I said, women seem to be very poor.