Deputy Brid Smith has called on the Department of Education to withdraw threats it has issued to teachers in the ASTI.
Teachers are been told they must sign up and agree to substitution and supervisor duties by tomorrow or face been taken off the payroll.
Brid Smith said today: “this is the worst example of bully boy tactics and intimidation I have seen in a dispute in years. If any employer in the private sector behaved like this it would be outrageous, but the fact that this is the Government makes it even more so.”
Deputy Smith said that the dispute cannot be resolved by intimidation and bullying. “The ASTI are absolutely right to fight for equal pay for equal work and I support them 100%. This is a cheap attempt to rail road these workers that will not succeed. I will be raising these outrageous moves in the Dail.”
In the meantime Deputy Smith urged the union and its members not to be moved by these tactics and also urged Minister Bruton to deal with the substantive issue of equal pay for equal work. “It remains an insult to all public sector workers that a large cohort of newly recruited workers are paid significantly less than their senior colleagues for doing the same work. It is unjust and cannot last. Piecemeal restoration is not good enough. These workers could be suffering these discriminatory wage levels for years to come. This cannot be accepted any longer.”
People Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, clashed with Minister Mary Mitchel O’Connor at a meeting of the Jobs and Enterprise Joint Committee on Thursday.
Deputy Smith rounded on the proposed 10 cent per hour increase in the minimum wage proposed by the Low Pay Commission calling it “embarrassing” and an “insult”. She also told the Minister that the area’s most given to low pay, such as retail and hospitality had experienced large increases in profitability and turnover in recent years, as highlighted by a minority report of the Low Pay Commission.
The minister was also asked to explain why the IDA was supporting companies such as Uber who have a record of usurping labour laws and worker’s rights across the globe. The Taxi App company are embroiled in court cases in a number of countries over their insistence that workers are not employees of their companies but “service suppliers”. As such the company is not bound by minimum wage rights or other labour laws.
Deputy Smith told Minister O’Connor that it was a disgrace that the state should in any way support a company renowned for trying to bypass workers’ rights legislation. She also questioned why the IDA was also providing support for other so called ”client” firms such a Coke Cola, Amazon and Credit Suisse and requested a detailed breakdown of what support the IDA was providing to these.
A number of Dail deputies including Richard Boyd Barrett and Brid Smith staged a protest outside the Department of Transport Office on Leeson Lane, Leeson Street, today to highlight what they describe as the ministers “astonishing silence and indifference” over the current bus dispute in the capital.
The deputies were joined by workers from unions representing Dublin Bus workers.
Deputy Smith claimed the minister seemed fond of high profile interventions such as those in the Rio Olympics but seemed untouched by the impact of a mass transport strike in the city.
Deputy Boyd Barrett added that Minister Ross’s claim that he would not use the government’s chequebook to solve the dispute rang hollow in the light of the Apple tax scandal and the fact that his department had consistently cut the funding to Dublin Bus over recent years. “Whatever about taking the chequebook out if he simply pledged to restore funding to its previous levels this dispute would be over”.
Brid Smith TD today condemned the attitude and actions of the Custom House apartment management company in relation to its treatment of several security workers at the complex.
Deputy Smith believes the management’s actions that have resulted in no security cover or untrained cover on several occasions is placing the health and safely of over 3,000 people living in the apartments at risk.
Deputy Smith stated “I would urge the management company to properly engage with these workers, the safety issue is too important to be left to the whims of individuals or to any haphazard arrangement. In the event of an emergency these issues could have huge implication for everybody concerned”
The Apartment complex has been the site of ongoing protests by security workers concerned at both their treatment in relation to workplace issues and safety concerns over staffing arrangements implemented by the management company.
Deputy Smith said she would be contacting both the City Council and other bodies who have a responsibility to ensure such apartments are operated in a safe manner and again urged the company to treat its workers with the respect that their work deserved.
Pays tribute to the work of the Migrant Rights centre Ireland for their work opposing the Bill
Brid Smith TD has said that she is delighted that a proposed Fianna Fail bill concerning Au Pairs has been rejected by the Dail in a vote this afternoon. Deputy Smith said that this Bill would have left vulnerable young migrant workers without any protection or access to the states Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
Deputy Smith paid tribute to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland for their sterling work in opposing the Fianna Fail Bill.
Deputy Smith said “Our amendment to Fianna Fail’s ‘Au Pair Placement Bill’ urged TDs to allow workers continued access to the WRC to hear their grievances over low pay and long hours. There have also been reports of some of the worst examples of gross exploitation in the sector.”
Deputy Smith continued to say “the Au Pair Placement Bill is ill designed and could have had horrendous consequences for people working as Au Pairs as their work is already undervalued. This Bill talked about pocket money and light domestic duties; it doesn’t reflect the reality of domestic work today and seems instead to hark back to some idealised past of Au Pair work as something a student did as a rite of passage.
“I Au paired myself when younger but an unintended consequence of this bill would be to remove protections and laws from the most vulnerable of workers. We have a child care crisis in this country which can’t be dealt with by legislating to allow people to import cheap child care dressed up as cultural exchange.
“The recent cases before the WRC give lie to that argument and exposed an industry which unfortunately is dominated by gross exploitation. We must stand against that.
“I would like to say well done to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland for their work on this matter. Migrant workers have rights too and as workers they should have equal access to the mechanisms of the Workplace Relations Commission.”
Drastic measures required due to short fall in funding and staffing levels
People Before Profit fully support the decision of the Psychiatric Nurses Association members to go on strike in reaction to chronically low staffing levels in hospital and community services. The members of the PNA have voted by a margin of 87% for strike action.
People Before Profit Industrial Relations spokesperson, Bríd Smith, said “the levels of staffing in psychiatric wards at both the hospital and community level are disastrously low. It is quite clear that the past government and the current government, have totally disregarded the importance of mental health services. What we in People Before Profit are saying is that the mental health budget should be doubled from 6% of the health budget to 12%. We are also calling for a massive increase in the field of mental health nursing.
“The PNA nurses are absolutely right to vote for strike action and further more I would call on all unions involved in the delivery of the health service to follow suit and ballot for strike action. A united front would pile real pressure on the government to implement the changes that are required for the health service and end the recruitment embargo.
“It is quite clear that the recruitment embargo needs to be stopped and new nurses should be employed immediately. We need to bring the numbers of mental health staff up to 12,000 immediately to deal with this situation. The embargo on recruitment has been disastrous for the health service in general and for mental health services in particular.
“Pay for nurses is also a massive factor that needs to be addressed if we are to stop nurses, newly qualified and current, from going to the UK. People Before Profit will be putting forward a motion in the Dail during Private Members Time to repeal the FEMPI legislation which has capped the pay of nurses and implemented a two-tier pay structure in the health service, and amongst all public servants. We need to recruit more nurses and pay them properly.”
People Before Profit will today propose a motion to the Dail to abolish the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation (FEMPI). FEMPI is the most anti-worker legislation in the history of the state.
The motion has been signed by Anti-Austerity Alliance- People Before Profit TD’s (Bríd Smith, Richard Boyd Barrett, Gino Kenny, Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry), Independents 4 Change TD’s (Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Tommy Broughan), Catherine Connolly TD, Seamus Healy TD, and Thomas Pringle TD. The motion is also supported by Senator Gerard Craughwell.
The emergency bill was brought into law in 2009 and has had untold consequences for workers.
The government is continuing with the old policy of austerity when it comes to the pay and conditions of public sector workers, while at the same time saying that the economy is in recovery. It continues to hide behind a supposed “Financial Emergency” in order to pursue the draconian provisions of this legislation, supported by the trade union leadership.
People Before Profit spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Bríd Smith TD, said “The FEMPI legislation, from its inception in 2009, represents an attack on workers. People Before Profit believe FEMPI should be repealed immediately. We are tabling this motion to the Dail, with the support of other parties of the left, in a bid to claw back some of the ground lost by workers when they were sacrificed by the Fianna Fail/Green and Fine Gael/Labour governments along with the EU- Troika.
“Recently we have been told that the country is in recovery. We welcome this, but what we have seen when we look closely is a recovery for the rich and for the banks that caused the financial meltdown and which is having disastrous consequences for our society.”
People Before Profit are holding a press conference today to highlight a motion that they are putting to the Dail to abolish the Financial Emergency in the Public Interest legislation (FEMPI).
Where: Buswell’s Hotel
When: Wednesday, 1st June (Today)
The motion has been signed by Anti-Austerity Alliance- People Before Profit TD’s (Bríd Smith, Richard Boyd Barrett, Gino Kenny, Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry), Independents 4 Change TD’s (Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Tommy Broughan), Catherine Connolly TD, Seamus Healy TD, and Thomas Pringle TD.
The motion seeks to abolish FEMPI totally.
There will be in attendance at the press conference workers who have been affected by FEMPI, Bríd Smith TD, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Gino Kenny TD, Clare Daly TD, Seamus Healy TD, Ruth Copinger TD and Senator Gerard Craughwell.
Workers Undertaking Legitimate and Legal Action Under Payment of Wages LegislationPeople Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, has lashed out at Transdev and their Managing Director, Gerry Madden for a disgraceful and vicious attack on the Luas drivers. People Before Profit fully support the drivers in their legitimate pay claim and strike action and have organised solidarity actions with TDs from across the Dáil and the drivers.
Transdev, a very profitable multinational company, have threatened the Luas drivers with pay deductions of 10% if they continue the ‘work to rule’ that is currently being engaged in by the drivers. The Payment of Wages legislation does not allow for a company to deduct a workers wages when they are engaged in legitimate industrial action. This hostile escalation by Transdev was issued on the 26th April and is due to take effect on the 29th April. This is an attack on the Trade Union movement and all workers.
Deputy Smith also called for Minster Donohoe to intervene and assist the negotiations to help resolve the dispute.
Bríd Smith said “The escalation of this dispute by the company Transdev is a total disgrace and a nasty attack on the Luas drivers who are taking legitimate industrial action. The drivers are engaged in a ‘work to rule’. Transdev are now persecuting the drivers for this by threatening pay deductions of 10%.
“This ‘work to rule’ only involves drivers insisting on taking their full breaks which are allocated to them under their terms of employment. Breaks for drivers are a vital part of health and safety regulations. Gerry Madden knows that this is the extent of the work to rule and that health and safety regulations and the contracts of the drivers determine the right to full breaks.
“What Transdev are attempting to do is to break the drivers and smash the union. This is a very important dispute for the Trade Union movement and for all workers. The latest threats set a very dangerous precedent for all workers involved in pay disputes.
“The Minister has already said that he does not agree with these measures that the company may use to recover strike costs from the workers.
“Despite Minister Donohoe stating that he will not get involved in this dispute I am reiterating my call for him to do so in light of these serious threats to the drivers from Transdev.”