January 15, 2021
Remote Working Strategy welcome but needs to be strengthened – Louise O’Reilly TD

Louise OR' ReillySinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment and Workers’ Rights Louise O’Reilly TD has welcomed the publication of the Making Remote Work strategy, and called on government to support opposition legislation, currently in train, which would deliver on some of the goals of the strategy.

Speaking today, Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Remote working, or working from home, is not just a response to the pandemic. For many years now, workers, trade unions, and opposition politicians have been highlighting the benefits of remote working and pushing for it to be recognised as a protected form of work with particular safeguards, protections, and allowances for those workers.

“There was widespread support for the consultation process, which was opened by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on remote working last year. It is welcome to see that many of the suggestions made in submissions by Sinn Féin, the Financial Services Union, and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions have been incorporated into the strategy.

“Giving workers the right to request remote working has long been a demand of the trade union movement and the left, as we sought to ensure that workers in this state had comparable rights to their peers across the EU, in Britain and in the north of Ireland. It is to be welcomed that the Tánaiste and government have finally joined us in agreement on this point.

“The construction of remote working hubs as outlined in the strategy offers us a chance to rejuvenate and revitalise our towns and villages, which have suffered a multitude of shocks over many years from depopulation to the closure of shops due to the drift towards online shopping.

“If remote working hubs are delivered in a strategic manner and with local consultation, they offer one of the greatest opportunities for organic decentralisation and the rejuvenation of our towns and urban centres.

“I would, however, criticise the decision to only introduce a code of practice on the right to disconnect from work. Technological developments have led to such a pervasive ‘always on’ culture, where workers are contactable and readily available to receive work emails, calls, text messages, and push notifications at every hour of the day, every day of the week. Only legislation will offer workers the necessary protections.

“Sinn Féin currently has legislation going through the Dáil to give workers a legal right to disconnect, and I know other TDs have legislation in train around the area of remote working.

“Therefore, I would encourage the government to support opposition legislation currently in train, which would deliver on some of the goals of the remote working strategy quicker than the government starting from scratch.

“Sinn Féin will work with the Tánaiste to progress and implement the positive aspects of the Making Remote Work strategy, and we will also seek to strengthen areas where we feel it falls short.”

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