28 June 2021
By Mary Bermingham
Thomas Gould TD has said new data provided to Sinn Féin which shows 153 breaches in employment law and abuse of workers’ rights were detected after Workplace Relations Commission investigations in Cork since 2019 underlines the need for additional WRC investigators.
Deputy Gould said:
“Despite being underfunded and under-resourced, the Workplace Relations Commission (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 have 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.
“Cork was not immune to seeing workers’ rights and employment law trampled over as 26 breachers were detected in 2019 and shamefully an additional 85 breachers during the pandemic in 2020 with a further 42 breaches found to date in 2021.
“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 so they can stand up for workers and protect them against such abuses.
“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.”