Speaking this morning Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, said a new EU report highlighting the deteriorating conditions for frontline and essential workers during the pandemic finally puts paid to the government narrative that ‘we are all in this together’.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“An EU report, compiled for the European Parliament, which evaluated the working conditions and wages for essential workers in Ireland, has highlighted how the already precarious working conditions of many frontline and essential staff significantly deteriorated during the pandemic.
“The report indicated that where workers were represented by trade unions, these workers “were socially recognised” by the media, public, and politicians, and had a “collective voice” to represent them, thus protecting them during the pandemic.
“However, by contrast, workers without the benefit of a trade union, such as those working in nursing/care homes and meat factories, saw their conditions deteriorate significantly.
“The comprehensive report highlighted how already existing issues, such a lack of statutory sick pay, a living wage, and affordable childcare services, exacerbated the pandemic for many essential workers.
“Furthermore, the report found how the privatisation of nursing homes and other healthcare services has created “new problems rather than solving old ones” and has “undermined the standard of care and actually endangered workers”.
“The research also noted that Ireland remains almost the only country in the Western World where there is no right to collective trade union bargaining. Indeed, the lack of trade union representation for workers in the private sector caused a situation where workers were unrepresented, unrecognised, and silenced.
“While many of the revelations in this report are unsurprising to workers on the ground, to politicians on the left, and to trade unionists, the research should be a wake-up call to those in government, and especially the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment.
“It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to wake people up to the difficulties faced by essential workers, however, in the aftermath of the pandemic, the government must seize the opportunity to deliver better pay, conditions, and rights for these workers.”