Workers' rights today at 1916 level says Mythen
WEXFORD councillors were among the first in the country to unanimously support the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) new workers' charter, at the meeting.
Senior ICTU official David Joyce, whose great grandfather Richard Corish was a former chairman of Wexford County Council for one quarter of a century, addressed the members about what the organisation hopes to achieve for Irish workers over the coming years.
The congress charter for fair conditions at work seeks basic terms for workers, including a living wage, fair hours of work, fair public procurement, respect at work and union recognition. Mr Joyce expressed concern at what he described as a significant deterioration in the conditions of employment across the country. A €11.50 living wage is sought, along with the end of zero hour and low hour contracts by multiples.
He asked councillors to submit a motion supporting the charter at a future council meeting.
Former trade unionist Davy Hynes said the recession has meant a wholescale 'drive to the bottom' leading to wage cuts and attacks on worker conditions, rights and pensions. Cllr Michael Whelan said construction workers are very concerned with the way agencies are now employing people with no contracts offered.
'The rates are not the construction rates. There is a lack of respect. Employers can ring you at 5 p.m. and inform you that you're not needed the following morning.'
Cllr Deirdre Wadding welcomed the charter saying it is long overdue. 'This whole thing of not knowing from one week to another what your hours are is unacceptable. There is no security for people in that kind of work.'
She also questioned why a cleaning lady is charged a high rate of tax, while international companies are only taxed at 3 per cent, on occasions.
The way Tesco workers in the county are being treated was described as dreadful.
Cllr Malcolm Byrne said he represents a significant number of commuters in the Gorey area who rely on public transport.
He said: 'There is a concern about the disregard for commuters over the stance of some of the SIPTU officials in the Luas dispute. You can have bad employers but you can also have equally bad trade unionists.'
Cllr Mary Farrell said she fully supported the charter, adding that any new company which bases itself in the county should commit to the charter to ensure that zero hour contracts and low hour contracts are not part of their work policy. Cllr Johnny Mythen said workers rights are as bad today as they were in 1916.
'We have to wake up to the exploitation of workers in Ireland,' he said.