Budget 2021 designed to dazzle - all style but little substance for workers
13 October 2020
Seanad Whip and Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Media, Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht
- Missed Opportunity to upskill and retrain workers during the pandemic
Speaking in response to the government’s Budget 2021 announcement, Labour Party spokesperson on Employment Affairs Marie Sherlock said:
“Billions have been thrown at the economy in a budgetary exercise designed to dazzle, but workers looking for meaningful support will be sorely disappointed.
“This is a budget of contradictions. We are told that skills and training are at the heart of its work, yet the budget does nothing to correct the bizarre unfairness of workers on the PUP having to take a serious cut in benefits in order to access education or training.
“We are told that working from home has been essential for our pandemic response, but there is not a single new measure in Budget 2021 to ensure those remote working are not out of pocket. Nor is there any requirement for employers to pay a daily allowance towards the costs of those working from home.
“And we are told that this is a budget for all of society – yet this platitude rings totally hollow for the lowest paid. A paltry increase of 10c to the National Minimum Wage is simply miserly. It is an affront to the carers, retail workers and others on the front line, many of whom went out to work through the darkest days of the pandemic so that the rest of us could stay safely at home.
Senator Sherlock continued:
“The Government had unprecedented funds to spend in Budget 2021, and yet has somehow missed the opportunity to afford workers a more decent livelihood and a better ability to plan for the future.
“Instead we see public money being handed to businesses, but with no requirements that they ensure decent conditions or wages for their employees. We see a failure to reform the EWSS into a true short-time working and training scheme. And we see changes to Illness Benefit which, while welcome, will only be implemented after four more months of foot-dragging during a global health emergency.
“In fact, despite so much talk from the Government on sick pay, we see nothing in this Budget to address the crisis that has hit those on the front line without any right to paid sick leave. Childcare workers, those in meat plants and agency healthcare staff have all been ignored in their moment of greatest need.
Senator Sherlock concluded:
“In sharp contrast to the budget announced today, Labour’s alternative budget for 2021 was first and foremost a budget for workers. With so many working people struggling through the pandemic, it was vital that concrete steps were taken to protect incomes, safeguard workers’ health and ensuring a fair Covid recovery.