Dáil debates

Thursday, 9 May 2013

10:50 am

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour) | Oireachtas source

I will deal first with the Deputy's specific question as to whether I support low-paid workers taking a further cut. I do not support that. That is why the agreement proposed to the trade unions did not propose a cut in pay for low-paid workers. The cuts in pay proposed are graduated above a certain level. It is also the reason this Government reinstated the cut in the national minimum wage which was imposed by the previous Government. It is also the reason we legislated to reintroduce the joint labour committee system after it was struck down by the High Court. We recognise that people who are in low-paid employment need to have a statutory framework within which their pay and conditions are protected. This Government has not reduced the basic rates of social welfare payment, something that was done by the previous Government. It is the reason this Government took more than 300,000 people out of the universal social charge. These are the people on the lowest level of pay. When it comes to protecting people who are on low pay, this Government has taken repeated action and shows exactly where it stands even in difficult circumstances.

Of course, the issue of pay only arises if one has a job. That is why the Government's priority is to ensure the protection of existing jobs. We have pursued policies which have not involved - as is the case in other countries - compulsory redundancies for those working in the public services. We want to protect those companies employing people in the public transport system, for example. We do not want to see Bus Éireann fail financially, which would result in the loss of jobs. It is also the reason we are pursuing an economic strategy which is aimed at encouraging investment in this country by companies who establish subsidiaries here and who employ Irish workers. I am very pleased to see that over the course of recent times we have been successful in this regard. Last week alone, for example, more than 2,000 new jobs have been announced and more than 1,000 additional jobs were created in the private sector over the past 12 months. There has been a turn in the numbers of people who are at work. However, it is not fast enough; we want to see a lot more done in terms of additional jobs. It is the reason we have put such an emphasis on youth unemployment. Young people who are leaving schools and colleges cannot get the jobs for which they are qualified. We obtained European Union agreement for the youth guarantee which is supported by a youth investment fund of €6 billion. It is all to do with ensuring that people have jobs, that those jobs are secure and are not put at risk and that the best possible pay and conditions apply to them.


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