As those who regularly read my blog know, a core focus of my political and working life is workers’ rights and workplace conditions. Since the last election life has got better for many of these workers thanks to the Labour Party in government and in particular the work of the previous Minister of State for Business & Employment at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Ged Nash.
During his short tenure Ged achieved significant changes for workers:
- he brought the concept of the living wage to the fore and made it realisable in the future by legislating for a Low Pay Commission that must recommend wage levels to government. This immediately resulted in a second increase in the minimum wage.
- he, against global trends and indeed high court challenges, introduced collective bargaining legislation that provides a strong base to enhance workers’ collective rights to union representation in Ireland
- he amended the Credit Guarantee Bill and overhauled Microfinance Ireland to make it easier to lend money to micro enterprises
- he immediately drew up a report on the the overnight closure of Clerys department store with the loss of almost 500 jobs and then pro-actively commissioned a report into the various legalities that ‘allowed’ the closure happen. This report just released recommends changes in legislation to make this approach to company take-overs illegal
Ged meeting Clerys’ workers vis TheJournal.ie
What is significant in these achievements is how he navigated the political divide between himself and his Fine Gael counterpart Mins Richard Bruton. The difference in ideology between the two parties when it comes to workers’ rights is highlighted in each party’s response to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ Charter for Fair Conditions at Work , which contains a commitment to collective bargaining and the living wage. Without hesitation, all Labour Party deputies signed while only 7 FG deputies did. Yet, despite this and despite the fact that the Labour Party was in a 1:2minority, Ged was successful in advancing workers’ rights.
Seanad Labour Panel
Like many other workers and trade unionists, I was deeply upset when Ged lost his seat in the recent election. I couldn’t believe that his pro workers’ rights voice would not be present in the next Dáil. However, his nomination by ICTU onto the Labour Panel of the Seanad gives me great hope that his strong representative voice will be present.
Therefore, if you are a current TD, outgoing Senator, City or County Councillors (or indeed you know one) and you want a pro-active, determined and challenging Senator committed to enhancing and progressing workers’ rights you need to vote No 1 for Ged Nash on the Labour Panel in the current #Seanad16 elections.
Other Labour Candidates in #Seanad16
Other Labour candidates with a similar calibre to Ged’s that I would also ask you to consider are:
- Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin on the Industrial and Commercial Panel
- Kevin Humphries on the Administrative Panel
- Denis Landy on the Agriculture
- Ivana Bacik on the Trinity Panel
- Aideen Hayden and Luke Field on the NUI Panel