SIPTU President, Jack O’Connor, has called on the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, to urgently establish a Government task force to review the current conditions of employment and other matters in the waste disposal industry. His request arises from the increasingly bitter dispute at Greyhound Household Ltd where more than 70 members of SIPTU have been locked out since 17th June 2014 for refusing to accept a draconian cut of around 35% in their pay and drastic changes to their terms of employment.
In his letter, Jack O’Connor said that “a race to the bottom” is underway in the waste disposal industry and that the treatment of workers is appalling to a degree that would not be tolerated in any developed economy or society. He said that quite apart from the issues at stake in the Greyhound dispute “the overall situation in the waste management and domestic refuse collection and processing sector is deplorable.”
He continued: “In the absence of regulation, a full-scale ‘race to the bottom’ has been underway for some time. This has resulted in the development of a highly unstable situation, with considerable restructuring and implications for sustainability. In general, terms and conditions of employment are abysmal and in some instances it is questionable as to whether even the national minimum wage is being adhered to at all. If the confidential enquiries we are receiving are in any way accurate, the treatment of workers in this sector is appalling to a degree that should not be tolerated in any developed economy or society.
“Accordingly, I am respectfully requesting you to promote the urgent establishment of a Government task force to review the current conditions in the industry, having regard to the implications for sustainability and quality of service. As well as considering factors such as financial sustainability, the exercise should focus on employment practices, including remuneration and procedures for the conduct of industrial relations, because apart from the implications for those who are unfortunate enough to have to work in the sector, the absence of reasonable terms of employment are detrimental to the public interest.”