July 3rd: Responding to today’s announcement that the 2019 Living Wage has been calculated as €12.30 per hour – a 40 cent increase – trade union Unite said the increased highlights what Senior Officer Brendan Ogle termed the “poverty gap” between low pay and high rents. Mr Ogle made his comments while attending ICTU’s Biennial Delegate Conference, where he moved the union’s motion on housing policy.
“The Living Wage is calculated as the income needed to ensure a minimum acceptable standard of living, and is based on painstaking research into a range of costs as well as taxation impacts.
“The increase announced today is primarily driven by spiralling housing costs, with rents in Dublin now accounting for over half – or nearly 52% – of a single person’s minimum living costs.
July 3rd: Moving Motion 36 at the ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference this afternoon, Unite Senior Officer Brendan Ogle said that the trade union movement – which represents 800,000 working people North and South – must campaign vigorously for measures to resolve the housing emergency which has left over 10,000 people officially homeless in the Republic. Referring to what he termed “tax haven, unequal Ireland 2019”, Mr Ogle said:
“Yesterday we learnt that a Cork couple walked 10 miles with their child to get food from the ‘Penny Dinners’ charity. We also learnt that the Goodman Group just paid practically zero tax on €100m+ profits. We don’t know whether the Cork couple are part of the official homeless statistics, or among the thousands of hidden homeless. But we do know that those who make sure Goodman and so many others pay little or no tax fall into neither category. Tax haven, unequal Ireland of 2019!
“This motion calls on the incoming ICTU Executive to establish trade union-led campaigns North and South to – among other measures – demand the state acquisition of vacant properties; impose rent controls on the property and landlord class who are declaring class war on their fellow citizens, and demand programmes of large scale, state-led, public housing.
July 2nd: Seconding Motion 12 on precarious work during this afternoon’s debate on Employment Rights at the ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference, Unite Regional Officer for Construction Tom Fitzgerald said that, while the transient nature of construction work means that the whole sector can be characterised as precarious, “The worst expression of precariousness in the sector is forced bogus self-employment – where workers are forced to operate self-employed, when they are clearly workers and employees. We know that this impacts on a raft of workers’ legislative rights, the application of collective agreements, the application of sectoral employment orders and similar.
“It is Unite’s judgement, based on our experience, that the 33,000 workers identified as being ‘self-employed’ in the construction sector are in the main bogusly self-employed. This has obvious consequences for those workers themselves – consequences which may follow them into retirement – and also deprives the exchequer of hundreds of millions of euros every year”.
Speaking during the same debate, Colette Godkin, Secretary of Unite’s English Language Teachers branch, said:
Protest at National Children’s Hospital hears it’s time for state to use purchasing power in battle against bogus self-employment
June 28th: Officials and activists from Unite joined members of other unions this morning to highlight the issue of bogus self-employment on the National Children’s Hospital project. Speaking during the protest, which was also attended by Congress General Secretary Patricia King, Unite Regional Officer for Construction Tom Fitzgerald said that a two-pronged approach is needed to stamp out bogus self-employment, which imposes an unacceptable cost on individual workers and the wider economy:
“First and foremost, we need to start with a presumption of employment, and force employers to prove that a worker is not an employee.
“Secondly, the state should start using its considerable purchasing power to exclude companies using bogus self-employment, or other abusive labour practices, from bidding for public contracts.