Precarious work on the rise for women in Ireland, Congress tells EU Delegation

9 Oct 2015

David Joyce, Theresa Dwyer
David Joyce, Theresa Dwyer & Melissa Brennan of the Congress Women's Committee. Photo by Justine Carnec

by Justine Carnec

Women in Ireland are more likely to engage in low-paid and precarious work, according to Congress Equality Officer David Joyce.

Although more women have entered the Irish labour market since the start of the economic slump, they are more likely than their male counterparts to work in precarious employment.

These key facts were reported to a delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights & Gender Equality – the FEMM Committee – who visited Dublin recently on a fact finding mission.

The delegation met with representatives of the Congress Women’s Committee, which included: David Joyce, Theresa Dwyer and Melissa Brennan.

The purpose of the visit was to investigate gender equality and women’s rights in Ireland.

Women represent half the population of the world, and should rightfully “have the same rights as the other half”, FEMM Committee Chair Iratxe García Pérez stated.

She drew attention to the fact that unlike in other European countries, the gender employment gap decreased in Ireland at the outset of the economic crisis.

She noted that the economic downturn prompted a big increase in male unemployment in the construction sector, hence the differing employment rates for men and women.

However, David Joyce explained that women were more likely to do part-time jobs and work on temporary contracts for example.

As the issue of the constitutional ban on abortion and the campaign to repeal the Eight Amendment is expected to become an issue in the next election, Belgian S&D MEP at the European Parliament Maria Arena questioned the Women’s Committee members about the role played by trade unions in Ireland on this matter.

Congress was opposed to the Eight Amendment when it was adopted, in 1983 and remains opposed now, David Joyce explained.

Congress recently signalled its support for the campaign to repeal the amendment.

He argued that women, who are “over-represented in low-paid and precarious work”, must travel abroad to avail of an abortion, which was wrong and hypocritical.

In relation to the gender pay gap, Mr Joyce criticised the fact that “apart from the proposed increase in the minimum wage, there had been no measure” introduced to tackle this problem.

The issue of Family leaves was also raised, with MEP Maria Arena noting that “unpaid leaves do lead to poverty.”

David Joyce acknowledged that it was “a difficult struggle” and said that government must take leadership to achieve tangible progress.

Theresa Dwyer added that Congress was against sharing of maternity leave and that in order to achieve equal treatment between women and men, “we do need paternity leave and paid parental leave.”