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Friday, 4th June 2021

€1.7m in unpaid wages recovered in 250 employment law breaches

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Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster.

€1.7m in unpaid wages recovered

Data provided to Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster shows that 250 breaches of employment law and abuse of workers’ rights were detected by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in Co. Louth, and 240 in Meath, in the past two years.

Deputy Munster said that this underlines the need for additional WRC investigators and improved workers’ rights legislation. 

“Despite being underfunded and under-resourced, the WRCdoes fantastic work on behalf of workers across this state” Deputy Munster said. 

“In spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic the WRC carried out 7,687 inspections in 2020 and managed to recover almost €1.7m in unpaid wages for workers. 

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"Indeed, data recently revealed to Sinn Féin outlined how, since 2011, the WRC has recovered almost €18m in withheld wages for workers. 

“We have also obtained data which shows the scale and number of breaches of employment law detected by WRC investigations since 2015. In those six years, the WRC has detected breaches in employment law in more than one-third of all investigations. 

“Of the number of cases investigated, 35.9% found breaches by employers for non-payment of the minimum wage, employment permits, protection of young persons, annual leave and public holiday breaches, unpaid wages, among others. 

“Sectors such as food and drink, retail and wholesale, hair and beauty, and construction, to name but a few, have seen consistent breaches of employment law in recent years. The breadth, scale and nature of these breaches reveal a dark underbelly of Irish economy, which must be stamped out. 

“Counties Louth and Meath are not immune to seeing workers’ rights and employment law trampled over as 250 breaches in Louth and 240 in Meath were detected in 2019 and, shamefully, during the pandemic in 2020. 

“The increase between 2019 and 2020 is also cause for concern. In 2019 in Louth there were 53 breaches, but in 2020 there were 197 detected.  In 2019 in Meath there were 68 breaches, with 172 in 2020. 

“The WRC is underfunded and understaffed, it has only 53 inspectors carrying out this work, despite being authorised to recruit 90 inspectors back in 2006. It is essential that additional inspectors are recruited immediately. 

“In addition, this data also reinforces the need for workers being given the legal right to collective bargaining through their recognised Trade Union so they can stand up for workers and protect them against such abuses. 

“The government cannot continue to turn a blind eye, there has to be protections for workers on one hand, and consequences for employers who ride roughshod over employment law and workers’ rights on the other.”

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