Labour keeps 'threshold of decency'
The leader of the country’s largest trade union has said that the Labour Party in government is maintaining “a threshold of decency” which could be threatened by any alternative administration.
Siptu president Jack O'Connor made the comments in a speech to the Labour Party centennial conference in Clonmel, Co Tipperary this afternoon.
He said by being in government the Labour Party had secured the restoration of the minimum wage, the re-introduction of the registered employment agreement and employment regulation order wage-setting mechanisms which cover 20 per cent of workers, the implementation of the EU directive on rights for agency workers and the preservation of the basic rate of social welfare.
“Taken together these elements constitute a threshold of decency and I know that none of them would survive any alternative government that could come into office.”
“I know as well that Labour managed to convert a minority position into a programme for government that, for the first time in the history of the state, commits to collective bargaining rights for workers, as well as a single tier entry health service and free primary care.”
“I am here because I believe that Labour’s strategy represents the distinction between making noise and making a difference for working people, and for the less well off in our society. And I will go on supporting that strategy as I believe it to be true.”
Mr O’Connor said while the budget this week would not be a Labour budget, he would expect the party “to press its mandate to the very limit to ensure that the budget goes some way towards reversing the balance in the equation thus far, which has seen working people and the marginalised shoulder three quarters of the adjustment while the wealthy have contributed considerably less than they should”.
“I don’t expect the Budget to ignore the strait-jacket of banking debt that is crippling us all in Ireland but I think all of us in our society have a great deal more to do to demonstrate our insistence on a fair restructuring deal on that debt over the next number of months than simply leaving it to the Labour Party, or the Government for that matter,” he said.