Living Wage and Social Protection
Ireland is the 8th wealthiest country in the world. However consistent child poverty here increased to 11.7% in 2013, with 17.9% of children at risk of poverty (Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission).
The low wage economy acts to benefit of private landlords, now a couple who are both employed often struggle to pay rent if they are stuck in low paying or minimum wage positions. Such precarious private sector employment also prevents workers from defending their rights in trade unions.
There is huge scope in Ireland for real public employment providing long term jobs in construction of public housing, schools and infrastructure. Provision of such jobs will insert money directly into local communities, and state coffers through PAYE and PRSI, rather than into the personal off-shore accounts of developers through spurious and failed Public Private Partnerships.
The reduction of 20% in social welfare entitlements for young people aged 18-25 has had the desired effect of forcing our youth onto unpaid intern or ‘job-bridge’ positions, or into direct emigration. The government parties refer to these compulsory forced labour schemes as ‘labour activation’ and have started quoting them as if they were real jobs in an attempt to massage the unemployment figures.
In the private sector workers are increasingly being forced to declare themselves as ‘self-employed’, permitting employers to bypass PRSI, medical leave, holiday entitlements, etc. The PRSI system must be expanded to include the self-employed, allowing them to avail of social welfare benefits on an equal basis with all other workers.