Speech by Joe Costello at Future of Work Public Meeting
28 June 2017
Good evening. Welcome to Dublin Central. Welcome to the new four seat constituency.
Welcome also to O’Connell St., the heart of Dublin Central and the heart of our capital city.
It was here that so much of our modern Labour history was forged.
The balcony of the old Imperial Hotel down the street was where James Larkin rallied the Locked out workers in 1913. That was part of the same building where 100 years later the Clery’s workers were so scandalously locked out by the modern-day exploitative employer.
I mention both these events because the Labour Party and SIPTU (ITGWU) were both centrally involved though they were one hundred years apart. They show the continuing relevance of both Labour and the trade union movement to the world of work.
I want to pay tribute to Ethel Buckley of SIPTU, Ged Nash as Labour Minister for Business and Employoment and Brendan Carr as Labour Lord Mayor who contributed so substantially to addressing successfully the underlying issues and getting justice for the Clery’s workers.
Labour is the Party of the two million working men and women and their families in Ireland today and we must never forget that.
We have shown it in Government most recently by advancing substantially the system of Collective Bargaining including Sectoral Employment Orders and Registered Employment Agreements. We increased the minimum wage by €1.50 in the years of economic crisis after Fianna Fail had taken €1 off the minimum wage in 2010. Compare this with the derogatory 10 cent increase which Fine Gael gave this year to the minimum wage. It would take a Fine Gael Government 15 years to give an increase of €1.50 to the minimum wage even though economic circumstances are so much brighter now!
We have a strong campaign for a Living Wage and we are exploring the idea of a Universal Basic Income in the context of the rapidly changing nature of employment in the context of the digital revolution which is upon us.
We are clearly the only Political Party which has a track record of defending workers’ rights, of articulating good work practice and proper wages in Opposition and implementing them in Government. That record stands since 1912.
Tonight’s meeting is an important step in examining the enormous advances that are taking place in technology, how they impact on the workplace and society and what response we need to ensure fair, secure and well paid employment for the present and into the future.