Thomas Pringle TD

Thomas Pringle – Workers Rights

I want to ask about the July stimulus package, which we all know is needed to assist businesses in the reopening of the economy and the months ahead. We all agree on this. I want to ask what businesses will be expected to do for the State in return for all of the support the State is giving to them. It is a two-way street and it is not simply enough that they come out of the crisis in reasonable shape. The State must also be in reasonable shape. In return for the support we, as the State, are giving to them they need to support the workers who make their businesses a success. I do not believe a business can survive without the support of its workforce. Indeed, it is the workforce that makes many businesses viable. It is not simply through supporting entrepreneurs or business people that we will recover; it is also by supporting workers and linking the survival of workers and their families to the success of the State.

Too often in recent weeks, as people have returned to work, I have heard stories of businesses using the crisis to reduce wages without consultation. In one business, management has made many people redundant and is availing of the wage subsidy scheme for the remainder of employees. It is also using the crisis to reduce the remaining wages by 10% for everybody across the board, for which workers are already getting the wage subsidy. In another employment, management has taken on a new policy whereby all the workers return to work on the wage subsidy alone. While this may be okay, as the Tánaiste has said to me previously, it is a betrayal of workers and the State.

We need to get to a new way of thinking in this country, whereby we can acknowledge that business is important for the success of the economy but an engaged workforce is important for the success of business. This is key. The Tánaiste and the Government can make this happen. After all, I know the Tánaiste has the well-being of our people at heart. My question is simple. Will the Tánaiste make the jobs stimulus package work for workers also and ensure they, as well as their employment, will be able to survive?

 

People staying at work for wages on which they and their families cannot survive is not good for them either. What we must do is change the dynamic whereby businesses in partnership with their workers will survive. That is the reality.

The Tánaiste has consulted and met IBEC, the Small Firms Association, ISME, Chambers Ireland, SME Recovery Ireland and a range of State bodies, including Enterprise Ireland, local enterprise offices, Fáilte Ireland, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, the Central Bank, Microfinance Ireland and the Credit Review Office, but he should have meetings with workers and workers’ representatives as well. Then he will hear about the businesses that are capitalising on the crisis and using it as an excuse to make workers pay by cutting wages. There is no doubt that a workplace might have to reduce wages, but it should do that in consultation with the workers and recognise that its workers are vital to the survival of that workplace. That is what the State should be doing as well. We should be creating that dynamic. I ask the Tánaiste and the Government to start that ball rolling and to use the July stimulus to make that happen.

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