NEWS RELEASE: 1 September 2010
Today Galway West Fiannal Fáil TD Frank Fahey called for the budget of the National Employment Rights Authority to be cut, and for it to be amalgamated into other regulatory agencies.
Responding to Deputy Fahey’s comments, Bill Abom, Deputy Director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland says, “Exploitation of workers in Ireland, particularly in low-paid employment sectors is still commonplace. We continue to see case after case here at the MRCI on a daily basis.”
Mr. Abom continues, “NERA is only just beginning to scratch the surface in rooting out exploitation and wage theft by employers in Ireland. Last year for example, NERA figures for the catering industry showed that only 21% were compliant with labour laws.
Mr Abom says, “Cutting NERA’s budget would be a huge step backwards. If funding for NERA is an issue then employers who are found to violate workers’ rights should be made to pay fines when they break the law and cheat workers. Maybe then some employers will start to take employment rights seriously.”
“Deputy Fahey claims that the Government has worked hard to improve employment rights. Yet more than five years on from GAMA they have not even managed to pass the Employment Law Compliance Bill which was promised to strengthen enforcement and penalties against exploiters.”
“We have made enormous efforts, without success, to meet with Minister O’Keeffe since March to discuss the problems of workers employed in the permit system who are seriously exploited because they don’t have the freedom to change their employer. Yet the Minister has time to meet with Mr. Fahey about cutting NERAs budget. It makes me wonder about Minister O’Keeffe’s commitment to workers’ rights and fairness.”