Congress Calls for Delay on Permits over Concerns on Pay Rates and Working Conditions

15 May 2018

Low Wage Protest

The Congress Private Sector Committee has called for a delay in the implementation of a government decision to grant 800 work permits to non EU / EEA nationals in the horticulture and meat processing industries, in order to address serious concerns at its potential impact on pay and working conditions.  

Following a meeting of the Congress Private Sector Committee at which the matter was discussed, General Secretary Patricia King said: “The government statement indicates that the rate of pay applying to these workers will be €22,000 per annum.

This falls far short of the current minimum rate for work permit applicants of €30,000 per annum.  “It is unclear as to who decided on this particular rate of pay and on what basis. It is the view of Congress that such decisions should be made by the Labour Court.  

“In addition, there was no consultation with representative unions in the sectors concerned and apparently no account taken of collective agreements already in place, in some of these sectors. We can only assume that this part of an overall agenda to drive down wages in particular sectors of the economy,” Ms King said.  

“The government announcement made reference to obligations on employers to provide accommodation and other welfare measures, but contained no detail on the standard of accommodation to be provided and whether the employer would be required to meet the cost of these supports. 

“The announcement comes at a time when a review group established by government is looking at the overall employment permits system. This group is due to report to the Minister by the end of June. It is worth asking, what systems or controls have been put in place to support these workers and ensure they are not left open to exploitation by unscrupulous employers,” she pointed out.

“There are 17million unemployed people in the EU and 26,000 undocumented migrants in Ireland and Congress finds it extraordinary that no serious attempts were made to address these issues before arriving at this decision.” Ms King said that Congress was calling for the implementation of this decision to be delayed so these concerns can be addressed.