Sinn Féin TD for Kerry Pa Daly has said new data provided to his party underlines the need for additional Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) investigators and improved workers’ rights legislation.
The data shows there were 103 breaches in employment law and abuse of workers’ rights detected after WRC investigations in Kerry over the past two years.
Teachta Daly said:
“Despite being underfunded and under-resourced, the WRC does fantastic work on behalf of workers across this state.
“In spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic, the WRC carried out 7,687 inspections in 2020 and managed to recover almost €1.7m in unpaid wages for workers.
“Indeed, data recently revealed to Sinn Féin outlined how, since 2011, the WRC has recovered almost €18m in withheld wages for workers.
“Sinn Féin has also obtained data which shows the scale and number of breaches of employment law detected by WRC investigations since 2015.
“In those six years, the WRC has detected breaches in employment law in more than one-third of all investigations.
“Of the number of cases investigated, 35.9% found breaches by employers for non-payment of the minimum wage, employment permits, protection of young persons, annual leave and public holiday breaches, unpaid wages, among others.
“Sectors such as food and drink, retail and wholesale, hair and beauty, and construction, to name but a few, have seen consistent breaches of employment law in recent years. The breadth, scale and nature of these breaches reveal a dark underbelly of Irish economy, which must be stamped out.
“Kerry was not immune to seeing workers’ rights and employment law trampled over as 103 breachers were detected in 2019 and shamefully during the pandemic in 2020.
“The WRC is underfunded and understaffed, it has only 53 inspectors carrying out this work, despite being authorised to recruit 90 inspectors back in 2006. It is essential that additional inspectors are recruited immediately.
“In addition, this data also reinforces the need for workers being given the legal right to collective bargaining through their recognised Trade Union.
“The government cannot continue to turn a blind eye, there has to be protections for workers on one hand, and consequences for employers who ride roughshod over employment law and workers’ rights on the other.”