Hundredth Anniversary of 1913 Lock-out: Motion

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

I welcome the opportunity to speak to this motion. It is disingenuous in the extreme to attack the employers of this country in the sweeping way the tone of this motion seeks to do. It sends out the wrong signals internationally from a small, open economy such as our, which has a very good track record in employer relations. Those employers include some of the 200,000 small business owners, including myself, who are keeping bread on the table by creating and maintaining jobs in a very difficult trading environment.

This Government has made considerable strides through legislation in terms of making the creation of employment more achievable and practical across a wide range of initiatives. These include the temporary partial loan guarantee scheme and the microfinance scheme, which are working, and the initial jobs initiative. While other speakers would like to focus on the bad news, there is a steady flow of positive job announcements, including the major expansion plans in Cork announced this week by EMC Ireland.

This Government has put and will continue to put job creation to the fore. Many people are benefiting from the internship scheme which allows people get back into the workforce. We will soon see the JobsPlus initiative, which will allow many people dovetail from the internship scheme into full-time financially assisted jobs in the coming months. Action Plan for Jobs also is a pivotal part of this Administration, and every year job creation will be addressed through that plan.

The motion condemns today’s trade union leaders while ignoring the reality that we have not had any industrial unrest in recent decades thanks to the efforts of these very same trade union leaders. There are 1.85 million working in this country, of which 283,000 are public sector workers. Positive public relations is essential in both the private sector and the public sector for continued growth. The motion states that public sector workers have been forced to sign up to a programme of wage cuts and conditions but the facts speak for themselves. In 2011 and 2012, the average public sector earning was approximately €46,000. In fact, it increased to €47,000. The average industrial wage went from €30,000 in 2011 to €32,000 in 2012. The average farm family income was €24,000, dropping to €21,000. That is negative benchmarking.

Registered employment agreements were struck down by the courts. They were found to be unconstitutional because they were seen to be deferred legislation. Are the proposers of the motion suggesting we should not pay any heed to the law?

Regarding the suggestion that employers are going to the courts and getting injunctions imposed by gardaí to break a strike, gardaí only do their job. They enforce the law. Are the Members who put their name to this motion advocating the cessation of law and order entirely? It seems to me they would be the first people to look for help from gardaí in other circumstances.

There is a further suggestion in the motion that the awards made in favour of employees for unfair dismissal, unpaid wages, etc. are often unenforceable when offending companies go into liquidation, but there is no mention of the rights and wrongs of paying taxes to the Government when a company goes into liquidation. There are many people here, including some who put their name to this motion, who understand what I am saying. We all pay our taxes. We cannot avoid that.

The proposal for a memorial is a good one and should be looked on positively.