LOCAL Labour general election candidate Denis Hynes addressed the party’s National Conference on the need for equality of pay and the urgency of investing in the Defence Forces.
He said female workers were still earning on average 13.9% less than their male counterparts according to European Commission data.
This means women in areas such as Kilkenny who were working in full-time roles were working for free for over a month a year.
“This injustice cannot be allowed to continue. If the present trend continues, it will take over 15 years to right the wrong on these workers.
“What is incredibly frustrating is that the current government is not moving forward with the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill of 2017 which would tackle this issue that affects many local women.”
Denis said that by moving to a national living wage the gender pay gap can also be addressed.
“In areas such as Kilkenny there is a significant dependence in the services industry, and fortunately, we find this area is gradually growing.
“Most employment locally is created through tourism in hospitality, retail and the care sector. The vast majority of these sectors pay only the minimum wage of €9.55.
“The governments own independent advisor body has made it clear that a wage of €11.90 is required to allow workers to have a basic standard of living.
“Their finding for social justice was that a single person with no dependents would need to be earning €11.90 per hour and be in the full-time employment of 39 hours per week to survive.
“The increase of 20 cents an hour from January 2019 bringing the minimum wage to €9.75 is nothing short of disgraceful, and there is not a politician in the country that could live on this income.”
Denis said pay equality was not only a gender issue. “In our local army barracks, James Stephens, we have young recruits not getting the living wage.
“The conditions many young recruits face is shocking, and the recruits are working over the Working Time Directive of 48 hours per week.
“These recruits have their wages deducted for food and other necessities when training. Members of our Defence Forces must have the right to collective bargaining with the State.
“This right would give them the ability to negotiate terms and conditions in reward for the excellent work they do.
“I know from the many years of service that my father spent in the Irish Army that being a soldier is a way of life.
However, that way of life also needs to provide a decent standard of living for the solider and his or her family.
“I am proud that see our party conference support my motions on the living wage and the conditions with the Defence Forces and look forward to the party campaigning strongly on these issues.”