1 June 2006 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe BY CAOILFHIONN NÍ DHONNABHÁIN

41 week wait for cases at Employment Tribunal

Figures obtained by Sinn Féin Employment and Workers' Rights spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD show the average waiting time for cases to be heard by the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) was an incredible 41 weeks in 2005. This was 22 weeks longer than in 2002.

Morgan had raised the issue of waiting times at the EAT after hearing from trade unionists and those working with migrant workers that significant delays were detering workers from bringing cases and vindicating their rights. Morgan described the waiting times as "totally unacceptable" saying ithey "undermined employment law and workers' rights" and that "there is little point making workers aware of their rights if the bodies set up to adjudicate on their claims take almost a year to deal with their case".

Low paid lose out again

As An Phopblacht go to press, 26 County social partnership talks continue. Indications are that the low paid will lose out onece more. A recent NESC report found that in the 26 counties the richest 20% of the working age population now earns 12 times as much as the poorest - one of the highest levels of market income inequality amongst OECD countries. The same report found that nearly 14% of households in poverty are now headed by those with a job, a rate that has doubled over the last decade

Yet employers are resisting a demand from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' for the deal under discussion to include a "flat rate" increase for the low-paid. The ICTU proposal would have given those on the minimum wage and slightly over a guaranteed weekly increase of around €20 rather than a percentage rise. Low paid workers lose where percentage wage increases are applied. Such increases across the board disproportionately benefit higher paid workers. Proposals from the government include pay rises of 10% over 27 months for workers, with a miserly extra 0.5% for the low-paid.

The failure of social partnership to deliver for the low paid led to the Mandate trade union representing 25,000 shop workers not to take part in the talks. Mandate last month served pay claims on major retailers including Roches Stores, Brown Thomas, Supervalu, Clerys, Debenhams and Boots seeking €1 an hour increase for shop workers. Separate, company-specific claims have also been served on retailers including Penneys, Dunnes Stores, Arnotts, Stylo, Clarks and Benson Shoes.

FÁS workers accept LRC proposals

Ninety eight per cent of SIPTU members at FAS have voted to accept proposals from the Labour Relations Commission to end a six week dispute over compulsory decentralisation of workers to Birr in Offaly. SIPTU's Branch Organiser, Greg Ennis, said that following the ballot talks at FÁS, decentralisation would now take place on the same voluntary basis as at other semi-state agencies. Ennis reiterated SIPTU's call for all semi-state agencies to be removed from the current decentralisation programme by the Government.


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