Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Enterprise, Trade and Employment): Statements
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, gives increased rights to corporations, for instance, the right to sue sovereign states through corporate courts, but it does little for workers' rights. The ability of corporations to sue states will act as a major deterrent for using the state apparatus to counteract these negative effects. Taking the example of the minimum wage, Veolia, the giant French company, sued the Egyptian Government for increasing its minimum wage. Thankfully, the Egyptian Government won. Nevertheless, it incurred legal fees and arbitration costs of millions of dollars. The Government keeps telling us that CETA is good for the economy but an economy is made up of the workers within it. Can the Tánaiste explain how a treaty which permits corporations to sue the state for a minimum wage increase is good for workers and, by extension, the economy, and can give specific details in relation to that?
We are awaiting the publication of the Duffy report on the pay and terms and conditions of workers in the early years sector. I would hope that this would be the pathway to professionalise the sector given how crucial these workers have been during the pandemic. A recent SIPTU survey showed that 90% of early years workers struggle to make ends meet. Given that the Government brought in the wage subsidy scheme, this could be a perfect opportunity to expand this further and give appropriate wages for the sector. Has any consideration been given to this?