Monday, 26 April 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I express my delight at the outcome of the Citizens' Assembly on gender equality and at the recommendations it issued on Saturday last. The breadth of the recommendations reflects how large the job to be done with regard to gender equality remains. The focus of the assembly was women and work and the recommendations are seismic. Crucially, the assembly recognised that there are no silver bullets and that single gestures are not enough.
As an example, there was an explicit acknowledgment that we will not fix the gender pay gap if we focus solely on pay transparency or lifting the minimum wage. I am conscious that my colleague, Senator Bacik, brought legislation on the issue to the House in 2018 and we are still waiting to see Government movement on that, although there is a bit more movement now. It is a very important part of trying to narrow the gender pay gap. We need all those things and to empower women and men to bargain collectively for their wages and conditions, and that was recognised by the assembly on Saturday. To me, that is an historic breakthrough in recognising and acknowledging that the State has a crucial role to play in regulating and protecting workers within the workplace, but there is a limit to what the State can do. It is an acknowledgment that workers also have to be able to push for themselves.
There is a clear call from the Citizens' Assembly to have collective bargaining and tangible and concrete measures to try to address the gender pay gap. We call on the Government to make clear what actions it intends to carry out. It is a great credit to the National Women's Council of Ireland, the trade unions and many other groups that made submissions.The ball is now in the Government's court and we need to hear how it will implement those recommendations.