Seanad debates

Friday, 30 April 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:00 am

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I join with my colleague with respect to May Day. It is rather ironic that he brought up the issue of workers' rights and how workers are treated in this country. One of the worst employers in this country, if you get on its wrong side, is the State. I have brought many examples to this House of the denial of pension rights to community employment, CE, supervisors and various other issues.

Today, I raise an issue regarding education and training boards, ETBs. There are 16 ETBs, which were established under the 2013 Act. Education and Training Boards Ireland, ETBI, is their governing body. Its function is to provide legal services, ICT, human and industrial relations governance, procurement, public sector reform governance, as well as ETBI corporate and youth services. It is a pretty comprehensive set of supports which it offers ETBs. On top of that, ETBs have the two Departments responsible for education to fall back on at any time there is a query. Yet, every ETB in the country is also a member of IBEC. It says of itself

IBEC is Ireland’s largest and most influential business lobby and representative group, with our members employing over 70% of private sector workers. We believe [in] a strong economy...

I could go on. A freedom of information request of Limerick ETB this morning revealed it has paid €10,250 for membership of IBEC. Why? Why is it, when workers find themselves before the Workplace Relations Commission, the Equality Tribunal or the Labour Court, they face not only the representatives of the ETB they work for, but also those of ETBI and IBEC. What is going on? Why do we need to have IBEC there? There are 16 ETBs paying IBEC a minimum of €10,000 a year each, that is, €160,000. Why is this being paid to a private sector organisation by a public sector body? We might have a debate on governance of ETBs.


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