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Unions rule out agreement with Bruton over agency staff conditions delay

Minister Bruton is looking for a delay in the implementation of an obligation on workers to provide equal terms for agency staff as for permanent employees.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER FOR Enterprise Richard Bruton is putting forward proposals to allow employers hire agency staff on lower wages and inferior terms and conditions than permanent staff.

Unions have criticised the move, which comes just months before the government is due to implement an EU directive which guarantees agency workers the same rights and conditions of employment as their permanent colleagues.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie today, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said that Minister Bruton was seeking a derogation in the directive akin to that secured in some of Ireland’s competitors, such as the UK.

UK employers have a ‘time lag’ of 12 weeks before being obliged to provide equal treatment and conditions for agency staff.

The department said that at the moment there is no such obligation on Irish employers and the introduction of this legislation will ensure “a substantial increase in the rights of temporary agency workers”.

A derogation period can only come about though an agreement between the representatives of employers and workers, the department said, and the minister’s concern is to find a fair and balanced solution which will protect and create the greatest possible number of jobs.

Frank Connolly of SIPTU told TheJournal.ie that the union has no reason to support any derogation from the directive, which is due in December, and will not be engaging in any attempt to secure one.

A spokesperson from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said the organisation has held an “exploratory meeting” with the government and employer representatives, but that no firm proposals had been presented to it.

“We have heard nothing from either party to convince us that workers would gain from any derogation from the terms of the directive. In those circumstances and in that context Congress will oppose any such more,” they added.

Additional reporting by Michael Freeman

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