August 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
Deputy Alex White today welcomed Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton’s announcement that up to 100 jobs will be created over the next three years in five new high potential start-up companies to be located in the south Dublin area. These businesses have been supported by the government through Enterprise Ireland in the second quarter of 2011. The announcement follows on from the 310 new jobs announced earlier this year as part of the Q1 results of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start Ups programme.
Welcoming the announcement, Deputy White said
“If we are to rebuild the economy and create the jobs of the future, we must ensure that more High Potential start-up businesses can establish and expand here. An indigenous engine of economic growth is vital to the successful future we all want for Ireland.”
For more information on the announcement, please click here.
July 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
Following the the recent court decision in relation to JLCs and EROs, Fianna Fáil brought forward a piece of legislation called the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2011 which was discussed in the Dáil chamber last night.
It is not unreasonable for Deputy O’Dea to introduce this Bill in order that we can have a debate on the issue. Apart from one or two new proposals in the Bill, it is largely the same as the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2009, which I supported and spoke in favour of in the Seanad. The Deputy is correct in saying that the 2009 Bill was an attempt to anticipate the likely frailty and ultimate fate of a challenge that was then being brought to the orders and to the JLC system.
While I understand where Deputy O’Dea is coming from as regards the notion of the Government appealing the decision of Mr. Justice Feeney to the Supreme Court as a “tactic”, he will appreciate that such an approach is fraught with danger, particularly for a Government in circumstances in which – according to the Deputy and if I heard him correctly – the prospect of success is “minuscule”. And it would be wrong for the House to have the impression that bringing forth such an appeal would mean the Government would automatically obtain a stay on the existing Employment Regulation Orders. Indeed, obtaining a stay in the context of the High Court decision would be extremely difficult.
It is not unreasonable for the Deputy to introduce the Bill, but the Government is right and the Minister and Taoiseach are correct in the approach they have taken in saying that the Bill is not sufficiently robust. If the legislation is to achieve what people want, a number of matters must be addressed and necessary and vital improvements must be made to make the legislation fit for purpose.
We cannot forget that there were two essential pillars in the Feeney judgment. One was the absence of principles and policies to guide the Labour Court and the JLCs and the other was the issue of whether property rights under the Constitution were offended by the JLC system. As a minimum, a prudent Government and the House would want to proof legislation in the context of the latter issue, given the fact that previous proposals on protective and trade union legislation came up a cropper on this issue. This issue of property rights and their effects presents a considerable problem to those of us who want real reform and full collective bargaining rights for trade unions. It also presents a problem in this instance, in that it would be most imprudent to rush legislation when the High Court has identified that the property rights issue must be addressed. Perhaps it cannot be dealt with in legislation alone. Given the nature of these rights, dealing with them solely in legislation is difficult, but they must be addressed.
The other issue is that referred to by the Minister of State, Deputy Sherlock, and my colleague Deputy Mitchell, namely, the question of principles and policies raised in the judgment. The Minister, Deputy Bruton, has signalled an intention to introduce reforms, the Government has committed to reforming the JLC system and there has been consultation and debate on how that should be achieved and what the changes would be precisely. I expect that agreement can be reached on this agenda, and the principles and policies resulting from the agreement should be incorporated in any new legislation. Those contained in Deputy O’Dea’s Bill come from the 2009 Bill, referring to the “interests” of the workers, employers and so on, are somewhat bland and cover a bit of ground but not all the ground. We should use the legislation to provide for those new principles and policies as well. « Read the rest of this entry »
July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
“Today’s High Court judgment dealing with the JLC system of pay determination has identified a significant flaw in the 1946 and 1990 Acts” according to Labour TD Alex White.
“Mr Justice Feeney concluded that the legislation provided no guidance to the Labour Court or to the Joint Labour Committees as to how they should go about fixing rates of pay. This judgment follows a line of authority from the Courts that basic principles and policies should be set out in legislation by the Oireachtas, rather than being determined by the implementing bodies themselves.
“This flaw can be rectified, and that is in part what the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill of 2009 set out to achieve. That Bill, which Labour supported, had not been enacted by the time the last Dail was dissolved. Urgent consideration should now be given to reviving it.
“I believe that far from constituting a fatal blow, today’s judgment presents an opportunity for a careful and sensible assessment of the wage-setting mechanisms in low-pay sectors. We need to ensure that the fullest protection is afforded to low-paid workers, whilst also ensuring that the Labour Court and the JLCs operate on a sound legal and constitutional footing into the future”.
February 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
I was interviewed on yesterday’s edition of Morning Ireland to discuss Labour’s Plan for Enterprise, Innovation and Growth, released on Sunday.
Also on to discuss jobs were Leo Varadkar TD, Fine Gael and Niall Collins TD, Fianna Fail.
December 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
Yesterday’s budget was severe on all sectors of society. There are many people who cannot afford to take the cuts handed to them by this government. Yet, because the devil of this budget is in its detail, it may take until January for the full realisation of these measures hit home.
Today, I spoke on the budget in the Seanad. You can view the video below…
November 3, 2010 § Leave a comment
In the United States yesterday, as we have seen overnight on the news, there has been another change election. From my perspective, I am sorry to see that there would appear to have been a sharp shift to the right in American politics on foot of this election. Much of what we have seen happening in the United States in recent weeks has some resonances in this country because there are many candidates in those elections who appear to think that the way forward for a modern democracy and modern economy is to cut, slash and emasculate the state and cut the heart out of public services. That has been elevated almost into a political mantra in the United States. It is not as if it is something new, but certainly it has come back very much as a major agenda item in that country.
It has resonances in this country. Unfortunately, there are many people in the debate in our country who seem to think that all we must do is to cut the heart out of the State and out of public services, and have an effect on public services and public entitlements, for example, those who hold pensions.
There is a genuine concern, shared by me and my party, about areas of waste in public services. We must look at that and consider it carefully. Can we begin to have a debate on public services about what we want to have in this country, not what we want to cut? I refer to this indiscriminate slashing of the knife for two or three weeks in public before a budget. Can we sit down and work out what we cherish, what we want to have and what is worth keeping, rather than taking the debate from the other perspective? That would be a useful exercise for us to undertake here.
Of course, one of the areas that we should be considering as part of that debate is education. I have made the point in this House previously, we all have areas that we will say in the debate that we want to see preserved. It must be the case, and I believe this to be the position of the Green Party, that education at all levels is an area which should be preserved, nurtured and fostered. Particularly in the case of third level education, it would be a terrible pity if the Green Party was to abandon its previously stated position, for example, on third level fees or third level fees being introduced by stealth through a hugely increased registration fee. It would be a great pity if they were to abandon that. I appeal to them not to do so.
It is easy enough to say about education that there are many who can afford a higher registration fee and maybe it is the case that most Members in this Chamber could afford a higher registration fee for their children. That is not the point. The point is that higher education should not be the preserve of the well-off. We have made a commitment to higher education and education at all levels, that it is not a commodity to be parcelled up and sold off to the highest bidder and that it is something that we believe to which all children and all young people should have access irrespective of the wealth of their parents.
January 26, 2010 § Leave a comment
Will the Minister for Education and Science explain why it appears that within the next few days, the system is to lose 1,200 special needs assistants? This has not been denied or confirmed but can we have an indication that the report is wrong? Will Senator Dan Boyle tell us if it is wrong as his colleague, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Eamon Ryan, was on radio no more recently than at the weekend again emphasising the importance of education to the Green Party?
Will the issue be clarified to this House if it cannot be clarified on radio or to anybody else? Special needs assistance is one of the small number of things we have achieved in the past ten or 15 years of prosperity. It is a genuinely progressive step that has occurred in our schools. It would be a most serious backward step for people who are genuinely needed in the system, special needs assistants, to be made redundant at the end of this week or anytime soon. That appears to be what is contemplated by the Department.
The Department’s evaluation paper on these matters, submitted to the Department of Finance, stated in a rather prescient manner that there is a redundancy scheme in place. The document states:
However, removal of SNAs, even on a moderate scale, is likely to result in significant rearguard action by schools. It may result in schools refusing to continue to retain pupils with special needs and will undoubtedly attract significant adverse public and media reaction. Previous experience in the special needs area indicates that even where criteria are not met, removal of resources can be very contentious.
This is a genuinely contentious issue and it should be dealt with in this House.