Committed to fair pay for fair work to allow fair living conditions
Aontú is committed to justice in the workplace and the rights of all workers on the island of Ireland to get fair pay for fair work to allow fair living conditions. We affirm the dignity of work and the right of workers to equitable pay and working environment.
Low pay and precarious work affects the lives of many workers across the island of Ireland. In many sectors and firms workers are treated without respect and with limited guarantees to paid hours. Recent legislative provisions on zero-hour contracts and banded hours in the South are welcome, however it remains to be seen how these provisions will be applied in practice and what loop holes will appear.
We need a strong and well-resourced agency to inspect compliance with labour legislation including practices in relation to minimum pay, contract work and rights to parental leave and sick pay.
Zero hour contracts should be outlawed once and for all across the whole island of Ireland with no opt outs by employers.
Exploitive work such as ‘bogus self-employment’ where workers are forced by employers to declare themselves as self-employed in order for the employers to avoid tax and PRSI needs to be rooted out. This type of exploitation also results in workers being denied rights and safeguards that should go with their contract, as well as the State losing out on millions in tax.
The national minimum wage must be sufficient to lift the 100,000 working poor out of poverty. The living wage in Ireland is calculated as EUR11.90 per hour whereas the current minimum wage for those over 20 years old is EUR9.80. A ‘living wage’ is what is deemed the necessary earnings to allow the average person to achieve a minimum acceptable standard of living. The minimum wage should reflect the living wage, albeit with separate formulae for the Greater Dublin Area and the rest of the island given the massive differences in cost of living.
Availing of work, education or training should be a right for all, worker and non-worker alike regardless of socio economic background, location, age or gender. Lifelong learning needs to be encouraged both for the benefit of the economy and society as a whole. Finland is a good case study for this, where one in five adults are engaged in self-motivated study at any one time. Implementation of a ‘Job or Training’ guarantee should start with persons under 25 and be extended gradually to the entire workforce.
A right to decent income during retirement must be established. While progress has been made over recent decades, many workers are extremely vulnerable to losing pension rights due to ever changing market conditions. The current pensions structure also means that state contributions rather than residency are the primary driver behind pension payments. The way to secure pensions is to link employee, employer and government contributions as part of a reformed social insurance model based on residency. All residents of pensionable age should receive a full state pension rather than partial payments. Like the minimum wage and the living wage; the minimum pension needs to reflect a living pension. No person in Ireland should be choosing between food and heat.
To prevent exploitation, there must be protections put in place and penalties for employers who sack domestic employees to be replaced with workers from abroad for slave wages.
It is vital that workers have access to a range of services and supports including payment during periods of sickness, parental leave and study leave. We should be moving towards best practice in Scandinavian countries.
Finally, it is imperative on this centenary of the First Dáil that workers have an unambiguous right to collective bargaining and trade union membership across the whole island. A constitutional referendum should be held to enshrine this right in Bunreacht na hÉireann.