Thursday, 12 July 2012
Industrial Relations (Amendment)(No. 3) Bill 2011: Committee Stage
David Cullinane (Sinn Fein)
I thank the Minister for his reply, although I cannot accept his reasoning. While I accept he is acting on the advice of the Office of the Attorney General, my party does not have access to this information. Having said that, we are often prescriptive in what we do in putting down legislation. It is not something new that we would not be prescriptive or that we would have to be somewhat loose in regard to what we insert to give some leeway to a court. What we are talking about here is the establishment of registered agreements which deal with people's pay and entitlements. In that context, I do not see any reason that we cannot be prescriptive around ensuring there is an absolute commitment, with which I do not have any difficulty, to ensure the court has regard to agreeing and maintaining fair and sustainable rates of remuneration in the sector in question.
That is what the agreements are about. It is the core of the agreements to ensure there is a sufficient level of protection for the most vulnerable workers in society. While I accept the Minister's response, appreciate the fact he has had advice from the Attorney General and can see some logic in what the Minister is saying in respect of how the court will use the wording which is contained in the Bill, I simply cannot agree with this. I do not see any harm in being prescriptive. As I said, we are often very prescriptive in terms of laying down exactly what a court should use and determine when making certain decisions. I do not see this as being any different.
We have a genuine concern about the inclusion of that word. The Minister has answered and I do not expect him to come back again. I will press the amendment to a vote if the Minister is not willing to accept it.