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

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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Snippet Contents:

The Employment (Miscellaneous) Provisions Bill 2017 is inadequate to address what is one of the most difficult and dreadful developments of our age, which is the continuing expansion and growth of different forms of precarious work. To be perfectly honest, this area is becoming like that of tax legislation. In other words, people in HR departments continually review and change work arrangements to beat, if one likes, the system of labour and wage regulation. The Government needs to acknowledge and wake up to that fact.
During my time in government, one of the first things I did was raise the minimum wage by €1 per hour, reversing the reduction introduced by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party at the height of the crisis. When I was Tánaiste, I got the agreement of Fine Gael to bring in the Low Pay Commission and to introduce the only labour legislation throughout the EU, and certainly in any of the countries which had experienced economic collapses such as Ireland's, to give additional powers to trade unions and strengthen provision in the area of collective bargaining.
The concept of what a job is and what is work is important. We all know how important work is to people and how important it is that they can get work. One of the very good things of recent years is the fact that, notwithstanding the 330,000 jobs lost at the height of the crisis, many people have been able to return to work. In some cases, people have set up their own businesses. All of that has been positive. The concept of work, however, is that a person will do work which is satisfying and important to him or her or gives experience so that the person can go on to do those things that he or she wants to do. It is important to people's lives and well-being. Furthermore, if people work hard, they can support themselves and their family. Through their PRSI contributions and taxation, they can collectively provide for a social insurance and social welfare system that will provide for income support in periods of unemployment and for pension entitlement on retirement. That is the way the social democratic model works and it has worked well in countries such as Germany, Austria and those in Scandinavia. It has also worked well here for generations.
The other key element is collective bargaining, but the Fine Gael Party is highly adverse to it. For the social democratic model to work, it must include collective bargaining. Fine Gael shies away from collective bargaining, however, and we can see that running through this legislation. Although the Bill seeks to improve on the serious flaws and gaps in current legislation, it simply does not go far enough, and this is not in our interests as a country. We want to attract more development, employment, business and foreign direct investment. We also want to develop Ireland in a way which provides employment and all of the different things we want in our society, whether that is education, health care, public development or public works.
When I was a Minister, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions brought to my attention issues relating to this area, including the issue of bogus self-employment. After a long wait and continuing questioning on my part of the Taoiseach on the matter, the report was finally published in the past week or two. It was approximately ten days ago. Lo and behold, there was no debate or discussion. In two tables, however, the report showed that there was a loss to the Exchequer of approximately €60 million in tax and social welfare revenue as a consequence of disguised or bogus self-employment, or whatever one might want to call it. That is part of the problem. There are very few days a Government will sniff at recovering an extra €60 million in either PRSI or taxation because that money would go into the collective to fund our system and give people assurance.