MEDIA RELEASE Coalition to Protect the Lowest Paid 01.03.2013
Workers and the Coalition to Protect the Lowest Paid today handed in their submissions to the Labour Court and called for the immediate reinstatement of all Joint Labour Committees (JLCs).
Failure to do this will leave over 200,000 workers vulnerable to exploitation said the campaign group.
The JLC system brings together employers, workers and the state to agree minimum rates of sectorial pay and conditions. This collective bargaining framework ensures protection for low paid workers employed in sectors that are rife with exploitation and have low levels of trade union representation.
Gráinne O’Toole of the Migrants Rights Centre of Ireland stated, “The Labour Court has the power to maintain, amend or abolish these protections. Even in times of economic crisis, there is a line we cannot cross. Ireland needs a decision that emphasises: doing business does not have to be at the expense of workers”.
Speaking at the Labour Court Laura McKenna, a catering worker said, "People like me depend on the basic protections that the JLC system gives. We are struggling to survive. Without the protections of the JLCs and the minimum wages that they enforce we would go under.
“We are calling on the Labour Court to listen to the hundreds of thousands of workers who rely on the JLCs to put food on the table and to maintain JLCs in each of the sectors under review,” she said.
SIPTU Services Division Organiser John King added, “The Labour Court’s decision affects a large proportion of the workforce. It is vital that employment standards are reinforced for the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers.
“Trade unions have worked successfully with employers over many years to agree the decent working conditions that were provided for under the JLCs. It is in the interest of both good employers and workers that JLCs are re-established as without them we play into the hands of rogue employers and give a green light to exploitation.”
The Coalition to Protect the Lowest Paid is made up of workers, trade unions and community organisations including SIPTU, Mandate, Communications Workers’ Union, UNITE, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, Poor Cant Pay Campaign, Community Platform, the European Anti-Poverty Network Ireland and the National Women’s Council.