Belfast Telegraph

Watchdog concern over low-paid

Some minimum wage workers in Ireland do not have enough to live on, according to a European watchdog.

A review of a treaty to guarantee social and economic rights found the State missed 11 out of 22 commitments including the adoption of laws to prevent exploitation of some of the most vulnerable employees in society.

The review found the low paid were among the worst affected, with inspectors warning that the reduced minimum wage for first-time workers is insufficient to ensure a decent standard of living.

Similarly, inadequate laws fail to protect employees who waive their right to limits on wage deductions and leave them too little pay to provide for themselves and their families.

The European Committee of Social Rights, which inspects commitments under the treaty, reiterated its criticism of lack of rights for gardai.

Among the Government's failures was the refusal to allow gardai to join a union and negotiate pay, which was first identified last May.

It highlighted Ireland's "closed shop practices" which it said does not protect workers from the sack if they join a trade union, go on strike or support union activity.

One of the main findings was a lack of rules barring employers for rostering staff 12 days in a row.

Elsewhere, the review criticised conditions for merchant seamen and ship workers who can be on duty for up to 72 hours a week.

It also said the Government failed to demonstrate that workers exposed to occupational health risks are entitled to appropriate compensation and there is no guarantee of increased pay for clocking overtime.

The European Social Charter is a legally-binding economic and social counterpart to the European Convention on Human Rights, drawn up by the 47-nation Council of Europe based in Strasbourg.

The concerns about low-paid workers follows a study released yesterday which showed 1.4 million people, or almost 31% of the population, suffered from deprivation and were not able to afford basic items.

The Central Statistics Office report also warned 140,000 or one in eight children are in consistent poverty and going without basics such as heating or warm clothing.

Trade union Siptu said the European Committee of Social Rights report confirmed the low-pay challenge facing Ireland.

"350 million euro will be spent this year supplementing the incomes of low-paid workers with children. That's 25% more than last year," a spokesman said.

"The best way to make the recovery real is through decent jobs with decent pay. Badly-paid and insecure work is economically self-defeating for everyone."


From Belfast Telegraph