Wednesday, 15 June 2005
Joe Higgins (Dublin West, Socialist Party)
Recent months have shown labour laws to be pathetically inadequate in vindicating the rights and entitlements of workers in this State. Incredibly yesterday, the High Court said the law prohibits the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment from publishing the report of the labour inspectorate into the vicious regime of exploitation by Gama Construction on its sites. Is the Tánaiste incredulous that the labour laws allow ruthless exploiters of workers, whether Irish or migrant workers, to hide behind the courts and the laws of this land in having shameful truths suppressed?
It is now clear from not only this but from many examples that vulnerable workers suffering low pay and or oppressive working conditions have no hope of a speedy vindication of their rights from current laws, which favour ruthless bosses who can buy the most expensive lawyers in town, hired guns, and in the meantime intimidate, sack or otherwise silence employees seeking their rights. The industrial relations machinery is totally inadequate to deal with that. Workers are being increasingly forced to find other ways.
Workers at Global Mobile Vision, with serious allegations of wages paid late, harassment and bullying, approach the Independent section of the Technical Group, including Deputy Finian McGrath and myself, to try to expedite a solution.
A major multinational, General Electric, a partner of Gama, in Clonshaugh in north Dublin, sets up puppet companies so that it can set about a legal swindle to compel the IDA to pay it millions of euro for land belonging to the Irish people. It uses the proceeds of this sale to finance its puppet, Diamond Innovations, to force a redundancy deal on 50 workers, whom it bullies and pressurises into accepting, so it can replace them with cheap labour for its industrial diamond enterprises. What does the Minister, Deputy Martin, and the Government do? They rubberstamp this shameful deal.
This neo-liberal jungle is heavily promoted by the Progressive Democrats and the Tánaiste but is inimical to workers. Will we have a speedy amendment to allow reports of shameful exploitation by the inspectors or otherwise to be published for the Irish people? More radically, will we have legislation providing a mechanism where ordinary workers can detail abuses they are suffering and enable them to get immediate redress, within a week or two, as speedily as the bosses can get their injunctions in the High Court for which they can well afford to pay? What is the Tánaiste's response to the urgent increasing need of Irish workers?