Dublin: Rally in support of agency workers

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Date:

A Better Deal for Agency Workers

Date: Tuesday, February 19th
Time: 5.30pm
Place: The gates of Dail Eireann, Kildare Street

Organised by SIPTUSIPTU is organising a protest in support of Agency Workers while the Dail discusses labour law.

This is an opportunity to show unity between Irish and migrant workers, and to say that "an injury to one is the concern of all".

Many in the trade union movement hope that a solution can be found in the bargaining around the next stage of 'social partnership'. That may or may not happen, though the government's record in relation to the non-pay parts of previous agreements is pretty feeble.

The bosses (which includes the owners of the rogue agencies and the owners of the firms who use them) are not our partners. They want to screw as much as possible out of us, which is what 'competitiveness', 'restructuring', 'new ways of working' and 'increased productivity' are usually about.

The best way to win a better deal for our fellow workers is to show that we will stand with them and refuse to let the weakest be trampled on by greedy employers.

Statement by SIPTU, 11th February, 2008

SIPTU General President Jack O’Connor says there will be no further social partnership agreements unless the abuse of agency workers is ended and their rights to equal treatment with other workers enshrined in law. Mr O’Connor gave his warning at a meeting of SIPTU in the Granville Hotel, Waterford, this evening. It is one of a series of meetings being organised around the country by Ireland’s largest union as part of its campaign to obtain a better deal for agency workers.

“The present situation is unacceptable”, Mr O’Connor said. “We have a deplorable system of rented labour at present in which vulnerable people have effectively no employment rights in practical terms. The nearest parallel to the present phenomenon, which affects tens of thousands of workers in Ireland, is slavery.

“Whilst acknowledging the existence of quite legitimate employment agencies functioning to facilitate the ebb and flow of business in various sectors of the economy, the rogue agencies are ratcheting down the security and quality of employment rights for everyone who goes to work in Ireland.

“This phenomenon is sometimes defended on the grounds of protecting flexibility and meeting the competitiveness challenge. It does nothing of the kind. In fact, the reverse is the case, because it is deferring the day when we have to face up to the urgent need to launch a major national effort to upskill more than 500,000 workers in our economy.

“In this regard we have to stop thinking merely in terms of retraining, but ensuring full access to third level education for workers. This will give people the opportunity to reach their potential and render our economy capable of meeting the competitiveness challenge.

“Even a commitment in ‘Towards 2016’ to establish a fund to assist workers who had not been to third level with the cost of their educational fees has not yet been honoured.

“There will be no further social partnership agreement unless the principle of equality of treatment for agency workers is conceded in accordance with the standards that apply within the most advanced EU countries.”

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