Dáil Éireann - Volume 381 - 27 May, 1988
Estimates, 1988. - Vote 34: Labour.
Minister for Labour (Mr. B. Ahern) Bertie Ahern
Minister for Labour (Mr. B. Ahern): I move:
That a sum not exceeding £126,311,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st December 1988 for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Labour including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain grants and grants-in-aid.
In working to regenerate our economy, this Government are committed to working together with the national organisations of employers and trade unions and other representative bodies to improve the social equity of our society. Since its establishment a central objective of the Department of Labour has been to keep open the lines of communication between employers, trade unions and Government at national level in the interests of improving the conduct of industrial relations and the performance  of the economy. My Department have an important role to play in ensuring that the strategies pursued by Government, employers and trade unions in restoring competitiveness are attentive to the need to maintain a proper balance between equity and efficiency in the labour market.
In response to the competitiveness challenge, the Department of Labour are engaged in a critical examination of the entire range of their programmes. This examination and the current spending requirements on which this Estimate is based maintain a balance between the objective of securing savings in public expenditure and the need to maintain services to assist the disadvantaged and to promote the full development of our human resources. The Programme for National Recovery has outlined an extensive programme of labour law reform. Legislation is, of course, only one means alongside other public policies and the collective bargaining process in maintaining employment standards. In a global economy, employment standards have to be shaped so as to help Ireland become a more effective competitor. This calls for the development of more co-operative relationships between employers and trade unions, based more on compatible goals than on conflict.
Member states of the European Community are finding that high rates of economic growth are not, for various reasons, being converted into increases in employment. In our case, however, real economic growth, investment confidence and the stable economic environment which is underpinned by the Programme for National Recovery are accompanied by practical development measures which are creating extra jobs. The agreement to double by 1992 the Structural Funds will enhance those development efforts especially in the productive and infrastructural area and for employment schemes. Deputies will be familiar with the measures which have been announced to meet the specific job objectives of the Programme for National Recovery. The objectives are as follows:  a total of 4,000 new first time jobs were created in the first quarter of 1988; in the same period some 240 project start-ups have been recorded by the industrial development agencies across the overseas, indigenous and small industry sectors; twenty-four projects have been approved for the international financial services centre at the Custom House Docks involving a job content of approximately 1,000; over 2,000 new first time jobs have been created in the food industry in the past year.
While manpower programmes cannot and should not be equated with real jobs — they are very often the means to lead unemployed people back to the labour market — their importance should not be understated. I will be returning to these programmes later.
My Department's annual report for 1987 provides details of recent unemployment trends. The principal features are first that the total at work continued to fall last year except in the private services sector and, secondly, that unemployment has fallen slightly over the last 12 months. While part of this latter development is due to emigration and the effectiveness of Jobsearch, we should not ignore the underlying favourable development in the real economy.
The change in the live register seems to have heralded not only a halt to the long, steady upward spiral in unemployment which had persisted for years but also a substantial year-on-year decrease in the numbers out of work for the early months of this year. At the end of April there were 241,700 registered as unemployed compared with 250,000 in April 1987, representing a fall of 9,000 over the year. Seasonally adjusted, unemployment is now at its lowest level in 18 months.
The combating of long-term unemployment features as one of the objectives of the European Community's Structural Funds. This underlines the commitment at Community level to preventing and to reducing this most serious of social problems. In our own case long-term unemployment, that is unemployment in excess of 12 months, hovers  around 45 per cent of total unemployment. The most recent figures available reveal a small decline in long term unemployment — the first reduction in several years.
The Programme for National Recovery aims to strengthen our indigenous manufacturing sector so that it can achieve the size and the vitality which other small economies have achieved. It also aims to continue, but on a more selective basis, to attract overseas manufacturing companies. Economic growth and performance need to be accompanied by measures to improve the functioning of the labour market, raise educational and training levels and adapt their content to present and future requirements. While these strategies can prevent a recurrence of long term unemployment in future on the scale of today's historical high levels, they need to be supplemented by actions which reintegrate the long term unemployed into the labour market, and stop those who become unemployed from drifting into long term unemployment.
I turn now to my priorities for 1988 as they relate to this important area of the work of my Department. That importance is underlined by the sheer scale of the financial commitment involved. This year, FÁS will receive grant-aid from the Labour Vote of £113 million, towards the costs of overall expenditure of over £180 million. CERT will receive £2.5 million towards its overall budget of £6 million.
I should point out to Deputies that the establishment of FÁS has given rise to a variation in the presentation of the 1988 Estimate compared with the way in which the gross Estimate had been calculated in the past. The full details of this format are outlined in the Revised Book of Estimates. Briefly, in 1987 European Social Fund grants due in respect of certain employment and training schemes run by the National Manpower Service were treated as appropriations-in-aid on the Labour Vote and the full cost of the programmes shown under the respective subheads.
In 1988 these grants, totalling over £10 million, will be received by FÁS directly.  Secondly, in 1987 the Votes for postprimary education and higher education received over £33 million from the youth employment levy through the Department of Labour Vote. The allocation to the Department of Education of £30 million from the employment and training levy is no longer channelled through the Department of Labour Vote but is allocated direct to the respective post-primary and higher education Votes.
The establishment of FÁS as the training and employment authority is the single most important development in the manpower area in recent years. FÁS have taken over the functions of three former agencies. They have a vital role to play in the development and use of all manpower resources and I am confident that FÁS will be able now to offer a greatly improved service to their main clients, the unemployed.
One of my major objectives in setting up FÁS was to create an integrated set of programmes for the public. Previously many people did not know whom to approach for information or access to an employment and training programme. The local FÁS office will now be able to offer a comprehensive service of information, advice and referral. FÁS have already started refurbishing their offices to provide a more efficient service, together with a more attractive atmosphere. Deputies will be aware that a central information service has been set up for public representatives which should help to provide speedier information in response to specific requests on individual cases.
The establishment of FÁS is, of itself, a major step towards the integration of programmes. FÁS have begun a farreaching review, at my request, of the scope for rationalising the existing range of employment schemes and training programmes in order to provide a more responsive service to individual clients. In the enterprise area for example, each of the three former agencies had their own programmes and these are being examined with a view to developing a comprehensive programme with a variety of modules which can be put together  as needed to suit the individual client's needs. Other programmes are similarly being reviewed. I hope that this rationalisation will lead to a better and more cost-effective service.
In the general area of cost-effectiveness FÁS are working to ensure that savings can be achieved in each area with the least disruption in service. A number of steps have been taken to reduce overheads in FÁS. Total staff numbers are being reduced through the voluntary early retirement package. Other staff are being moved from administrative and overhead activities to work on direct training or employment activities, in particular Jobsearch and employment schemes. All overheads are being critically examined and any measures necessary to eliminate overlap or waste will be taken.
As a further step to becoming both more client-centred and more cost effective, FÁS will operate as a genuine regionally structured organisation. This will ensure that the needs and concerns of individuals and local communities will be catered for effectively and in a flexible manner at local level. The regions will participate in the overall planning process and FÁS programmes can be targeted more closely to local needs. This will help to encourage local initiative and experimentation and will also facilitate better co-operation with other local organisations.
Despite continuing efforts to reduce costs and streamline the provision of services, the resources available for manpower services will remain limited. I am most concerned to ensure that these resources are used to improve the position of the most disadvantaged people in the labour market. I have therefore given FÁS two priorities in programmes for the unemployed — the long term unemployed and early school leavers with no formal qualifications.
FÁS have a major role to play in the Jobsearch programme, in co-operation with the Department of Social Welfare. Some 65 per cent of FÁS recruitment must come from the live register, thus  ensuring that those longest out of work have the chance to learn new skills and improve their chances of finding employment. Other FÁS recruitment comes principally from the early school leaver category.
The apprenticeship system is one of the key programme areas which I have identified in guidelines issued to FÁS as a subject for urgent assessment and change. While apprenticeship has served us well in the past, it must be updated to meet the needs of a modern economy.
I have asked FÁS to make recommendations by the end of this year on the development of a flexible system which can provide high standards and yet reduce the currently high cost to the State. Industry must be prepared to take up its responsibilities in developing specialised skill training and to pay a more equitable share of the cost.
The combination of resources within FÁS will also give added impetus to planning for equal opportunities. Building on the initiatives pursued by its forerunners, the new streamlined Authority is to bring forward an integrated action programme identifying opportunities for positive action. FÁS are not short of ideas and have already built up considerable experience in this regard. They will be devoting special attention to working with employers to encourage them to take more young women into employment, particularly in the non-traditional types of work for which they are now being trained.
FÁS will also play an important role in the development of co-operatives. Parallel to the Community enterprise programme, FÁS plan to establish a specialised service to promote the cooperative concept and provide expert advice and counselling services.
These new initiatives meet the commitment contained in the Programme for National Recovery and reflects the outcome of consultations with the key interests involved. Worker co-operatives were seen in the terms of the programme as having a significant contribution to make in employment maintenance and job creation. I intend as Minister for  Labour to ensure that arrangements for the support of co-operatives are better co-ordinated and that co-operatives are given the kind of specialised assistance they require to enable them to pursue employment initiatives with realistic commercial prospects.
The issue of the free movement of workers has become increasingly important in the context of the completion of internal market. FÁS provide detailed counselling services to people considering working abroad. It is also the most appropriate source of advice for young people about the difficulties involved in leaving this country without adequate preparation. This applies particularly to those who have no qualifications and, therefore, little prospect of success abroad. What FÁS can do is to try to redirect them to manpower opportunities in Ireland.
Despite cuts in most other areas of State expenditure, the Government have maintained the 1988 allocation for emigrant advisory services at its 1987 level of £250,000.
The bulk of these funds, which are released by me on the recommendation of DÍON, are currently directed towards improving and developing the reception services mounted by voluntary agencies in Britain for newly arrived emigrants. DÍON has been trying to ensure that a co-ordinated approach is adopted in the development of emigrant welfare services on the part of these agencies, the “settled Irish” represented by the Federation of Irish Societies and the various statutory agencies in London and other urban centres in Britain.
I have been urging employers to recognise that our provision for training and development at company level in Ireland is too narrow, too little and for too few. We certainly need to look more systematically at training needs at enterprise level. It is clear, however, that neither at management level, at the level of technical skills, nor at the level of basic induction training for young people is our overall performance sufficient to ensure that we are fully competitive.
 An analysis of the information available from the 1986 labour force survey on training provided in the four weeks prior to the survey revealed that only 5.5 per cent of all employees had received some training or education in that period. We lag behind Britain in this respect where the comparable figure was over 10 per cent. We must acknowledge the existence of a significant training gap compared with our competitors in Europe. Training will have to come to be regarded as a matter of central importance in the corporate strategy of Irish industry. We need to change employers' attitudes to training and retraining so as to ensure that employees' skills are updated to meet changing needs.
On management development the success or failure of many business enterprises today depends largely on the quality and style of management. Unfortunately, too few firms have demonstrated any long term commitment to management training and development.
There are many routes to management and there is a variety of institutions and organisations engaged in the provision of management education and training, involving substantial Exchequer subventions. I believe there is considerable scope for rationalisation in this area to enable better use to be made of existing facilities and to co-ordinate the work of third level educational institutions, State training agencies and the Irish Management Institute. That was one of the reasons I appointed an Advisory Committee on Management Training in July 1987. I have asked the committee to make recommendations to me on how management training can contribute more effectively to economic development.
Because of the urgent need to raise the general standard of management throughout all sectors of the economy, I have asked the committee to report by June this year so that decisions can be made quickly to ensure the best possible provision of management education, training and development from within existing resources.
 Since we joined the European Economic Community in 1973, the European Social Fund has provided sustained and invaluable help for vocational training and job creation schemes in Ireland. Ireland has always been a region of absolute priority in the fund and, as a result, has qualified for special consideration and a higher rate of assistance than certain other regions.
The total amount of ESF assistance received by Ireland since 1973 exceeds £890 millions. This money has enabled us to develop a vocational training structure, throughout the country, which we would have otherwise been unable to establish. Our ability to provide a trained workforce has greatly enhanced our attractiveness for foreign investors and the efficiency of our industry has improved. In the current year we expect to be approved for ESF assistance of over £166 millions, which is £4 million more than for 1987.
The budget of the ESF in recent years has not kept pace with the increased demands from member states, particularly since the accession of Greece, Portugal and Spain. As a result the European Commission has been applying stricter criteria for the approval of applications for ESF assistance, and programmes for persons unemployed for more than 12 months. This emphasis by the Commission on programmes which produce economic results, as opposed to programmes of a more social nature may have the effect, in the future, of reducing the level of assistance for some of our programmes.
The agreements reached at the last summit in Brussels on the reform of the structural funds are of major significance in meeting the objectives of the Programme for National Recovery and combating the scourge of unemployment. My Department, together with the agencies under my responsibility, are working with other Government bodies to ensure that the increased resources that we will get under these funds are used to the best possible advantage to increase the productive capacity of the economy, and we  will do this in close consultation with the social partners under the Programme for National Recovery.
A very important new development is that Community support can in future amount to up to 75 per cent of the cost of projects or programmes, as compared with the present maximum rate of assistance of 55 per cent. This opens up a whole new range of possibilities. It also means that we will have to improve the quality of our programmes in order to qualify for support.
I attended a meeting of the European Community's Standing Committee on Employment on Wednesday at which I emphasised the commitment made in the context of the Single European Act and the February Council in Brussels to help the less developed regions on the periphery to improve their infrastructure and to reach the same standard as the more favourably located regions.
On work safety and health schemes, developments under way both at home and within the European Community will have profound implications for our future approach to safety and health. In accordance with the commitment in the Programme for National Recovery my priority in 1988 is the introduction of a Bill in the Oireachtas based on the main recommendations of the Barrington Commission of Inquiry on Safety, Health and Welfare at Work. The drafting of the legislation has now reached its final stage. The legislation will set down general safety and health principles applying to all employers, employees and the self-employed. Safety and health issues will have to be taken care of at the workplace under a safety based on an assessment of the hazards that exist.
Consultation and dialogue between employers and workers on safety and health matters will also be an important feature of the new provisions. The legislation will provide for updated enforcement provisions including improvement plans, improvement notices and prohibition notices. The new legislation will provide for the establishment of a national authority for occupational safety and health representative of the social  partners and Government Departments. The authority will have overall responsibility for safety and health at work at national level, which will include initiatives in policy, providing an enforcement and advisory service and co-ordinating and guiding education, information and training activities in the area of safety and health at work.
The development of measures relating to occupational safety and health has gained increased momentum in the European Community in preparation for the completion of the internal market by the end of 1992. There is a strong consensus within the Community that the internal market should mean more than just removing tariff barriers. Improvements in worker protection are a major feature of the social dimension of the internal market.
The Labour and Social Affairs Council is currently examining a number of new proposals for directives including: the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at the workplace; and minimum safety and health requirements for workplaces. The European Commission is bringing forward many other draft directives in the area of safety and health at work. These are of particular relevance to us now as many of the proposals are very similar to those arising from the Barrington commission.
These new instruments have obvious implications for our approach to legislative reform in this area. I have been advocating that any proposals for directives should be flexible and carefully produced. There is a clear need for adequate prior consultation with member states and with the representatives of employers and workers before proposals are finalised. We have also emphasised that the special position of small and medium sized enterprises needs to be properly recognised.
On employment law, my Department administer and enforce a very substantial body of labour legislation, including employment regulation orders made under the Industrial Relations Acts. These orders set down minimum pay and  conditions in traditionally low-paid or unorganised areas of employment such as clothing, catering, law clerks, hairdressing and agriculture. As a result of inspections carried out by the general inspectorate of my Department, almost £44,000 in arrears of wages were recovered last year. Such monitoring and inspection procedures are justified and do not at all imply a favourable disposition to the maintenance of unnecessary rigidities on the labour market.
I am very conscious, however, of the need to eliminate any superfluous legislative or administrative burdens on employers which can impede their competitiveness and their capacity to provide employment. The removal last year of the 50 year old statutory ban on the employment of women doing industrial night work is a case in point. Employers now have more flexibility in how they make use of their manpower and machinery. I propose to eliminate other regulations which are generally regarded as having outlived their usefulness.
As a further step towards improving equality of opportunity and eliminating unnecessary provisions in worker protection legislation, the Government yesterday lodged in Geneva an instrument to denounce Convention No. 45 of the International Labour Organisation. This action will enable us to remove the current restrictions on the employment of women underground in mines.
One of the areas on which action is called for is occupational safety and health. I am particularly attracted to the Barrington commission's proposal to use legislation to put beyond question important points of principle and to use structural codes and guidelines to advise and to educate people on how those principles are to be observed or implemented. I am particularly conscious of the very large volume of regulations and orders in the occupational safety and health field and the very genuine concerns of employers in this regard.
To ensure that the employment laws are better explained and understood a guide to labour law has been published. This provides in a straightforward and  non-technical manner, an immediate outline of the various protective employment measures and it should be of real assistance to workers and employers alike — particularly those in small and medium sized undertakings.
I have also initiated a review of a number of pieces of legislation and a discussion document on possible changes to the Unfair Dismissals Act, the Employment Equality Acts and the Payment of Wages Act has been published. Interested parties have had an opportunity to submit views on the proposals outlined in that document and the range of responses received will allow for full consideration of all aspects before legislative proposals are finally advanced.
A number of Acts covering the conditions of employment of workers are on the Statute Book for over 50 years. Many of the provisions of these Acts were introduced to deal with conditions in a very different employment era. A substantial number of them, or major parts of them, have by now been superseded by subsequent legislation. The question therefore arises as to the relevance of these enactments in present day circumstances. A preliminary review of this body of legislation, which includes the Conditions of Employment Acts, 1936 and 1944, the Shops (Conditions of Employment) Acts, 1938 and 1942, and the Night Work (Bakeries) Acts, 1936 and 1981, is at present being undertaken in my Department.
An Ceann Comhairle Seán Treacy
An Ceann Comhairle: I hesitate to interrupt the Minister but I must tell him that, in accordance with the arrangements made this morning, the time allocated to him is almost up.
Mr. B. Ahern Mr. B. Ahern
Mr. B. Ahern: The negotiation and ratification of the Programme for National Recovery and the agreements in pay associated with it represented a major achievement on the part of the social partners and the Government. The agreements on pay are designed to achieve long term wage stability — with obvious benefits in terms of reducing the  potential for industrial conflict and increasing confidence in the performance of both the public and private sectors. We need to foster this kind of confidence if we are to achieve our aims of increasing industrial output and generating additional employment. A sizeable number of pay settlements covering approximately 37,000 workers have been monitored by my Department since the ratification of the national programme and the great majority of the settlements have been based on the pay terms of the national programme.
The Programme for National Recovery committed me to holding discussions with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Federated Union of Employers on industrial relations reform with the intention of bringing about changes which would provide a better framework for collective bargaining and dispute settlement.
In my efforts to make progress in this complex area I have formulated a comprehensive set of proposals which I have put to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Federated Union of Employers. My proposals include: reform of the Labour Court and the establishment of a new, pro-active dispute resolving agency; provision for codes of good industrial relations practice; reform of the joint labour committees which propose statutory minimum rates of pay for certain sectors of low paid or poorly organised employment; further measures to promote and facilitate trade union amalgamations; the requirement that union rule books provide for secret ballots before industrial action; restriction on the granting of injunctions, particularly ex parte injunctions, in trade disputes; the removal of immunity in workmen v workmen disputes and in disputes in breach of procedure involving one individual worker; the removal of immunity for picketing a person's home and clarification of the position in regard to secondary picketing.
I did not have an opportunity, as happened last year, to cover everything. I would have liked to refer to CERT and  the Great Southern Hotels. I should also like to have referred to the difficulties of the Labour Court and industrial relations.
An Ceann Comhairle Seán Treacy
An Ceann Comhairle: Perhaps the Minister, when replying to the debate, will get a chance to cover them.
Mr. Birmingham Mr. Birmingham
Mr. Birmingham: I commend the Minister whose speed reading has certainly improved over the last 12 months. It is a year since we last discussed Estimates for the Department of Labour and on that occasion, facing a Minister who had been less than three months in office, I complained that there was very little evidence of any fresh thinking. That criticism may have seemed harsh but, a year later, the remarks were entirely prophetic.
We are reviewing a year of missed opportunities, playing safe and fudging the issues. I know the Minister is a keen sportsman and it is worthwhile considering what some of the sports journalists might say if they were invited to assess his performance. The GAA scribes might suggest that it was a question of some nice touches early in the game but that he failed to stamp his authority on it. The rugby scribes might suggest that, while some nice tackles were brought off in defence, he failed to link with his three quarters. However, having seen his performance as he went for the line in trying to finish his script some references to a front row forward might have been more appropriate. The cricket scribes might say that he had kept a good line and length without getting the ball to do very much and I will leave it to others to suggest what the angling correspondents might say.
Mr. O'Sullivan Mr. O'Sullivan
Mr. O'Sullivan: What about blood sports?
Mr. Birmingham Mr. Birmingham
Mr. Birmingham: I am trying to be fair to the Minister and none of my suggested reviews are all that bad but our prospects and situation called for something much more than a policy of safety first.
When the Government took office  unemployment stood at 245,000. Now, a year later, we are debating a Book of Estimates based on an average level of unemployment of 256,000, which is built into the Estimates. There is also an expectation, built into the Estimates, of continuing emigration at anything up to 30,000 a year. This is all done against a major exercise of “sweating” the register through the operation of the Jobsearch scheme. The Government's only response to unemployment of that scale has been to argue in favour of cutting expenditure in the belief that it will reduce interest rates and that all we have to do then is to wait. At one level, that is fine but, despite the growth rates which we have achieved, we are experiencing a continuing decline in unemployment across all sectors of the economy. The only possible exception is that of private services. Against that background, a response is overdue from the Government and the Minister.
What is required of the Government? They are required to demolish the road blocks to growth, road blocks which are now encased in concrete. Our costs are way out of line with our competitors in the areas of energy, transport and telecommunications. The tax regime must be of particular concern to the Minister for Labour with its very high marginal rates on very ordinary incomes which reduces the work incentive. We are talking about an effective marginal rate of 65.5 per cent for a single person on a salary of £11.500 or £12,000 per year. More generally, those rates produce an ever-widening gap between what the employer pays out and what the employee takes home.
The Government's dismissal of the Fine Gael proposals for an all-party approach and their disavowal of any interest in fundamental tax reform is bad news for the unemployed and for the parents of those considering emigration. The direct result is that employment will continue to shrink and that there will be increased burdens on the Department of Labour, advisory services and services engaged in the creation of temporary employment opportunities. Inevitably,  the haemorrhage of emigration will continue, which will have further implications for the Department of Labour as further strains are imposed on them in their role of serving the interests and needs of the welfare organisations supporting Irish emigrants abroad.
The divergence between the tax regime applying here and the much more benign one in Britain has implications on the supply side for the Department of Labour because, across a range of occupations, as diverse as the traditional professions, the construction industry and the financial services sector, there is now an opportunity for very highly paid employment at moderate tax levels. The inducement to travel is very strong and it holds out the prospect of a serious shortage of skills in the coming years as the best and the brightest go. They leave against a very high level of unemployment.
We are moving towards a two-tier society, an élite in the main in the traditional areas of employment, the public service providing people in the older suburbs with secure employment but surrounded by outer suburbs with vast levels of unemployment and a whole new urban proletariat for whom the prospect of secure employment is all but unknown. Alongside traditional responses and the obligation on the Government to go for growth, something more is necessary, if there is not to be a whole new sub-class of people in our society for whom any upturn in the economy would be irrelevant, too little or too late. This sub-class would comprise the holed boats for whom the rising tide would simply mean that they would sink instead of being lifted.
Part of the response to that lies in the area of redefining the nature of work and in supporting the efforts of the third sector to identify, carve out and build on a niche for itself. In this context, the Government's response has been deeply disappointing. In the area of self-employment, the enterprise allowance scheme has been effectively relegated to the sidelines. In the case of local employment initiatives, the situation is even bleaker.  I fully supported in the House the restructuring of the manpower and training agencies and their merger in FÁS. However, I was very anxious indeed that those areas which had been developed and had shown signs of movement would not suffer. One area where the Youth Employment Agency were finding a role for themselves was in the area of cooperative support for community employment initiatives. I am very unhappy as I already detect signs that there is a much less sharp focus on that area of activity by FÁS. I am in no sense reassured by the somewhat bland reference in the Minister's speech to FÁS looking after co-operatives.
In the area of conditions and allowances paid to those who participate on various programmes, the record of the Government has been particularly disappointing. On taking office they moved quickly to disimprove the conditions, to reduce the allowances of participants on the Teamwork and social employment schemes. I have already drawn attention to the disparity in treatment between those who participate in the programmes and those who administer and direct the programmes. I do not wish to go over that ground again except to say that in one instance there is the prospect of guaranteed salary increases in accordance with the terms of the Programme for National Recovery while for others there is the actuality of very large cuts, percentage-wise. There can be no justification for treating those who have agreed to take up temporary employment which is of benefit to the community as well as to themselves less favourably than those in permanent employment and less favourably than those on social welfare. To single them out uniquely for unfavourable treatment cannot be justified.
I should like to make that point with all the force at my command but it remains the case that those schemes are attractive to sizeable numbers of people among the unemployed, particularly to many people among the long-term unemployed. That is so in those parts of the country where it operates but it remains  a national scandal that the social employment scheme, which is acknowledged as being among the most attractive to many of the long-term unemployed, is unavailable to the long-term unemployed of this city not because of any actions of this or previous Governments but because of the edicts of some trade unions. I raised this issue in the House on a number of occasions and I was brushed off with rather vacuous assurances that in time all will be sorted out. It is time to cry halt and to say that the continued obduracy and selfishness of some trade unions in dealing with the local authorities in Dublin cannot be allowed to continue and that this issue has to be faced up to fairly and squarely.
It is particularly galling that that should be the position in Dublin's Millennium year when the scheme might otherwise have been used to good effect. There has been some talk of movement in that area but it seems that at best what will happen is that there will be so many preconditions imposed that in practice the position will remain the same and the long-term unemployed in Dublin will be disadvantaged as against those from everywhere else in the country who have the opportunity to participate in such a programme.
That same timidity of approach is to be found elsewhere. For example, it is to be found in relation to the debate on greater flexibility in the labour market. Within Community countries and the wider OECD there has been a vigorous debate on the need to deregulate, on the need to introduce a greater measure of flexibility. In a number of instances that debate has led to legislative action and to the repeal of many controls which were found to be no longer apt. The Minister's contribution to this debate has been to publish a discussion document that focused on three areas of legislation, the payment of wages, equality and unfair dismissal. It would be a fair paraphrasing of that discussion document to say that what it says is that some people think that the unfair dismissals legislation is a disincentive to employment creation while other disagree. I do not think the  document goes much beyond that. On that basis it does not add greatly to the sum of human knowledge. It seems to me that the time is now right for an audit of all the interventions, assessing in each case the protection afforded and the cost to industry. Simultaneously with that audit there is a need to identify a code of rights covering areas of basic fundamental importance, safety at work, equality and so on, which would be sacrosanct.
As in the Minister's case, the clock has defeated me. I would have wanted to go on to talk about the lack of progress made since our last Estimates on health and safety legislation and the fact that only yesterday the Taoiseach told the Dáil — he appeared to know nothing about the legislation — that the legislation would not be published before the next Dáil session. I wanted to say something about the lack of progress on reform of industrial relations which has seen again deadlines missed and, apparently, no willingness to grapple with fundamental issues such as those that arise in the area of State monopolies in providing essential services. I wanted to talk about the apparent lack of urgency in preparing this country for the changes in the Social Fund and in the labour market that will be consequent on 1992 but I will have to deal with them later.
Miss Colley Miss Colley
Miss Colley: At the outset I will mention the areas I would like to deal with because up to now the other Members have been defeated by the clock. There is reason to go through the matters mentioned in the Minister's brief. There is a thread going through them that should be adverted to. It is important to deal with a number of matters, including the development of FÁS, industrial relations and reform and the problems associated with trying to solve long-term unemployment and emigration. I should like to deal with matters that will be dealt with in the coming years in relation to a European single market by 1992. The Minister touched on that in his speech  when he mentioned management training but there are a number of other aspects involved.
The reason I mentioned those matters at the outset was because on looking at the Minister's speech in moving his Estimate last year I noted that he touched on a number of those areas, particularly the development of FÁS, industrial relations reform and the plight of the long-term unemployed. Specific measures were suggested last year. We were promised legislation within a few months on industrial relations reform. I fully expected we would have passed legislation to reform industrial relations laws, something that is long overdue and has been referred to by many Ministers over the years, and that it would be in place. However, at this stage the Minister is still promising he is going to deal with the problem. He has said he proposed dealing with certain areas of industrial relations but we have heard similar statements from many Ministers of Labour before. There is no obvious sign of any progress being made. Discussions are taking place but what will be their result? When will those discussions come to an end? When does the Minister intend to grasp the nettle and introduce legislation with a view to dealing with industrial relations?
The Minister said he has asked the FUE and ICTU to discuss in relation to the framework of such legislation a number of areas including the reform of the Labour Court and a proposal that we should have a labour relations commission. I welcome a move to take out of the adversarial arena the practice of industrial relations. For far too long we have allowed it to become too legalistic and there has been a marked trend away from the idea that responsibility for industrial relations rests on the shop floor, in the office or in the place of employment. Despite the best efforts of the Labour Court, given the structures there, it has not been possible to overcome that trend. I would recommend relying more on a conciliation service, with emphasis on prevention rather than  cure in managing labour relations in the workplace.
Provision for secret ballots before industrial action is decided upon and restriction on the granting of injunctions are essential elements in industrial relations reform. There should also be provision for the outlawing of secondary picketing. While the Minister proposes the removal of some immunity, we should be very clear that secondary picketing simply will not be allowed.
While I commend the Minister on the proposals he has made, we are awaiting legislation. What has happened in this area is symptomatic of what has happened in FÁS and in dealing with the long-term unemployed. My party voted against the establishment of FÁS because there were no provisions in the Bill to reduce the numbers of those working in the bodies. The whole purpose was supposed to be more efficiency, reduction in staff numbers and reduction in duplication of services and functions, but there was no evidence in the Bill that this would actually happen. To date I do not see a real thrust in that direction. I am not saying it will not happen but it should be obvious that there will be a move in that direction. The Minister refers to a number of people leaving because of the early retirement package which is on offer to the public service generally, but he also refers to many administrative people moving into direct training areas. The first thing should be a fundamental review of the work of this body and then a consideration of whether one needs the people employed there. It is an unfortunate fact that three bodies grew up and achieved a certain staff complement, without any regard for the fact that there was duplication of services. This is a thorny problem but it must be tackled. Preparation for the establishment of FÁS was, perhaps, rushed and was not at the correct point before the body was established. The first priority should have been to sort out the industrial relations area and what the functions of the various grades would be; in other words the management structure should have been got going before the body was set up. I cannot  think of any other company which would become established without some idea of what its management structure would be. As I understand it, FÁS became established first and then looked at its management structure. It is still doing so. There is a great amount of upheavel among those working there. They do not know what jobs they will be doing tomorrow, next week or next month or even if they will be working there. They are not certain in what direction they are going. Although it may not remain in this state of flux, valuable time has been lost in which the development of the proper training courses and schemes for the long-term unemployed could have been worked upon. It seems that much of this work has been put on the backboiler until the administrative structures have been sorted out.
I have yet to see a fundamental review of the various schemes. The Minister refers to a fundamental review of apprenticeship schemes but I do not know where it is going. He acknowledges that there has been a very antiquated view of apprenticeship over the years and that we must move away from that idea. What are FÁS and the Department proposing? We are not being told. Next year, if this Government is in place, we will find ourselves once more debating the Labour Estimate and we will not have any concrete change in an area which is crying out for it.
Labour market flexibility is something that is upon us. We must develop that flexibility not just for our own sake but because of the implications of the single market in 1992. One of the major elements must be the training of our young people in the usual skills, trades and crafts, as well as new ones. If we continue to stick to antiquated ways of training we will be left behind. The Minister has a great amount of goodwill in this regard but as in the case of industrial relations, the development of FÁS and the problem of the long-term unemployed, nothing concrete is happening. Many speeches are being circulated with very interesting ideas but that is all. The mark of effectively spending £126 million  in the Department of Labour should be that we are getting value for money, not just talking about it.
I have been particularly concerned about the problem of the long-term unemployed and the continued growth of the numbers in this category. I acknowledge that there has been a greater awareness during the past year or six months of the plight of these people and that the social employment scheme, if it were properly operated, could do a lot of good, not just for the long-term unemployed themselves but for the community as a whole. I would have to agree with Deputy Birmingham when he says it is disgraceful that because one or two unions decide to say “no” to the operation of the social employment scheme in certain areas thousands of people are deprived of even part-time occupations, something that would bring them back into contact with the labour market with the possibility of retraining or maintaining existing skills, bringing them further towards getting a job. This is all the more disgraceful when one considers the success of the scheme in many other areas and the degree of dignity it has given to people who have been unemployed for so long and now see they can play a proper role.
This problem of the long-term unemployed and the social employment scheme has some bearing on flexibility in the labour market. The resistance of the unions to allowing the social employment scheme to take effect in some areas is tied up with their view that work consists of the 35, 37 or 40 hour week that is fully socially insured, that is permanent and that has the various protections and rights that go with it. There is no doubt that we are behindhand in moving to develop new work practices and a new flexibility. There is also no doubt that in the future there will be much more part-time work. It will probably be quite normal for people to have two separate part-time jobs in different areas. For many people that will be the reality not just because they cannot find a full-time job but because it will suit them.
This issue of flexibility is one that will be paramount in the next two or three  years in particular, in developing labour markets and training and in allowing for the fact that European nationals of other States will be coming to Ireland from 1992 onwards. They are used to more flexible work practices. We will have to rethink our attitude to what constitutes work. It is not good enough to allow 120,000 or 130,000 people to remain outside the stockade of employment. It is not reasonable to build a stockade around employment that does not allow the long term unemployed inside its borders and that does not allow them to take up any opportunities that might possibly be put their way, that might benefit the community and that might benefit themselves and give them some dignity. That is indefensible and it simply must be tackled.
The Minister for Social Welfare has taken up the part time work and voluntary work ideas that I and others have been speaking about for the last year, and I am delighted that he is doing so. I would also say, following yesterday's Question Time when I questioned him on this matter, he is beginning to acknowledge that availability for work is not the only criterion for receiving social welfare assistance. That indicates that there is a move towards saying that we simply must redefine our ideas about work. I ask the Minister to push forward on the various fronts that he has rightly identified need action. I would expect that, should we be here next year, we will have passed a great deal of legislation and that we will have developed our ideas on flexibility and work practices to a much greater degree.
Mr. O'Sullivan Mr. O'Sullivan
Mr. O'Sullivan: In discussing this Estimate it is worth remembering that, regardless of what decisions are taken and what is said here today, it is unlikely that it will create any jobs. I am not amused by some of the things I have heard from Deputies Birmingham and Colley and indeed from the Minister. The role of the Department of Labour has changed considerably since its establishment in as much as a large section of the budget of the Department is taken  up with what could be termed as social activities. They are trying to clear up the mess that the system has created, trying to mobilise people who are victims of the system. Deputy Birmingham made a sporting analogy as to what he would compare it with and it is certainly not cricket we are taking about but blood sports. That is the only analogy I can make from what I have heard here today.
Before I move on to what I originally intended to say, there are some points which were made by Deputies Birmingham and Colley that I feel I have to respond to. Deputy Birmingham referred to a two-tiered society. We must ask ourselves why do we have a two-tiered society. The answer is very simple — because over 90 per cent of the people in this House have, by their policies, opted for that system. He also said that the prospect of securing permanent employment in the future is remote. It certainly is because the main aim of the people who make the decisions is not to create permanent employment but part time employment because they find it cheaper to employ people on a part time basis.
Miss Colley Miss Colley
Miss Colley: They cannot afford it.
Mr. O'Sullivan Mr. O'Sullivan
Mr. O'Sullivan: I do not accept what Deputy Colley has said, that they cannot afford it. That is not the truth. Money is flowing out of the country simply because those who are supposed to be charged with the responsibility of creating employment, namely, the private sector, find it more profitable to invest abroad. Yet the three major parties in this House endorse these actions. The time comes when profit becomes a dirty word. That is something that is often said to people like myself who are members of parties who are not of the right. They say that profit is a dirty word in the Labour Party. Profit need not necessarily be a dirty word but it becomes so and it becomes immoral when people are put on the scrap heap so that the people with the money can export their finance to gain 1 per cent or 2 per cent extra in foreign investment. I welcome the recent call for the repatriation of profits but it has been only a  whisper to date. Until something positive is done about it the Minister for Labour and other Ministers will be charged with the responsibility of trying to introduce remedial action. This situation arises as a consequence of their own actions. We need a more fundamental change in society but I do not see any willingness to do that.
At present there is a major row going on about a rod licence. People are flowing out of the country by the busload, the boatload and on aeroplanes. Aer Lingus and Ryanair have record profits and I wonder why. It is not due to an upsurge in tourist activity but simply because people are going abroad to seek employment. What are we doing about it? These people are the victims of the system.
Deputies Birmingham and Colley referred to the unions' attitude towards the social employment scheme. The social employment scheme is praiseworthy and is doing a job to the best of its ability. Can you blame the unions if they question some of the scheme that are being put forward and the fact that they are not intended to replace permanent employment? The trade unions have as much right as the moneyed sector to protect their own interest and that of their members. The trade unions are far more conscious of the plight of their fellow workers who are being made unemployed than the employers are. Deputy Birmingham also referred to greater flexibility in the labour market. At the rate we are going there will be no labour market. All that will be left is a flea market because the policies of the Government, supported by the Deputy's party and the Progressive Democrats, are bringing about that situation. Deputy Colley also referred to the resistance by the trade unions and greater flexibility. Trade unions realise that they have to be flexible in their approach and there is evidence of this right across the board.
Mrs. Barnes Mrs. Barnes
Mrs. Barnes: It is about time.
Mr. O'Sullivan Mr. O'Sullivan
Mr. O'Sullivan: That is all right if the Deputy can identify an area which should be criticised but on the other hand can  she say with justification, when there are 250,000 people unemployed, that those in the trade unions have not a right to protect their own interests? History has proven to them that they have to do so. It is amazing that, according to the Estimate, there has been a 97 per cent plus increase in advertising and publicity. That is a rather frightening figure. Consultancy services are also on the increase and yet in the social area there have been huge reductions. Are we carrying out a publicity exercise or are we really concerned about the plight of those in the labour market?
The present Estimates presented by the Minister for Labour reflect a considerable retreat from the high ground that had been achieved by the previous Administration. When the Minister took office, he found intact a Bill which provided for the amalgamation of four agencies in the Manpower and training services area. Because of considerable political pressure that Bill was amended to provide for three agencies which were amalgamated into a body known as FÁS. Despite the fact that it is now nearly 12 months since that legislation was passed, the actual operation of FÁS throughout the country is unequal and uneven. As regards CERT, we objected to the setting up of that body. I would like to know if CERT have paid the paltry sum they were supposed to pay, namely, £500,000 for the whole industry of training. I would like confirmation of this.
The second area of activity which engaged the Minister was the reform of industrial relations legislation. Once again he found himself inheriting a legacy of prepared data and, indeed, prepared draft legislation. However, 15 months after coming into office, he has made little or no progress in this area.
The third area of primary concern for the Department of Labour is the safety and health conditions within which workers have to operate and fulfil their contracts of employment. The Minister inherited the recommendations of the Barrington commission established by his Fianna Fáil predecessor, former Deputy Gene Fitzgerald, which provided for a  framework proposal within which a semi-State body would be established to administer in a comprehensive way work and safety legislation under the direction of a semi-State organisation. When the Minister took office, work on this legislation was considerably advanced. An interim board had been established by his predecessor and preliminary discussions had taken place between the social partners and officials of his Department on sections of the draft legislation. However, 15 months later it would appear that this work has ground to a halt and slow, or no progress is now the order of the day.
These are the three main areas that concern any Minister for Labour. There are, however, other areas of concern which are of considerable importance in political terms. The first is his relationship with the European Community and the way in which he relates to the Council of Social Affairs Ministers. This is particularly important having regard to the fact that the structural funds, including the Social Fund, for which the Department of Labour have a direct responsibility are now likely to be dramatically changed following the completion of the legislation in relation to the Single European Act and preparation for 1992.
The recent announcement by the Taoiseach that the preparation for integrated programmes in the Dublin area and elsewhere is now being organised under the chairmanship of the Department of Finance with a secretariat provided by that Department, is a clear indication that the Department of Labour have lost the battle to France. This is a retrograde step. It appears the Department of Finance lord it over every other Department. Unless they have their hands in the pot, nothing happens.
Secondly, returning to the operation of FÁS and in particular the manipulation and management of the various interventionist measures to boost and maintain employment in a falling labour market, the Minister has failed to maintain the momentum created by the previous Administration in creating a  number of initiatives for generating employment. The State, through creative treatment of the social welfare code, could generate jobs and wealth through a variety of measures.
The enterprise allowance scheme has not been extended or indexed to provide a current level of incentive for participants coming off the unemployment register who wish to establish their own business. The rhetoric of the Fianna Fáil Government falls on deaf ears when the placement officers of FÁS, previously the National Manpower Service are required to inform incoming applicants that, if married, they can only obtain £50 per week under the enterprise allowance scheme, a sum similar to what they were entitled to four and a half years ago. The money set aside for this scheme this year represents a 32 per cent reduction.
The work experience programme has been abolished and thousands of young people no longer have the necessary start into the industry which was available to them through this programme. Teamwork has been pegged at its existing level and inflation has curtailed its attractiveness to many young people looking for employment. There has been a 15 per cent reduction in this area.
The social employment scheme, which was a major breakthrough in terms of harnessing the energies of large numbers of semi-skilled people who had been unemployed for one year or more, remains under-resourced and undermanaged on the direct instructions of this Minister. A clear and conscious policy dictated by the Department of Finance is clearly now running the Department of Labour. The take-up of participants in the social employment scheme will be reduced on a successive basis over the next couple of years because of the failure to increase pay rates. Despite the fulsome praise the Minister for Labour gave to the scheme when it was announced four years ago by the previous Minister for Labour, his actual performance in office in ensuring a constancy of resources and indexation of remuneration is in marked contrast to the attitude he displayed when this scheme was being inaugurated.
 Finally, the Minister, despite his frequent protestations of commitment to principles of international solidarity particularly in the area of racial harmony and apartheid, has reneged on a major commitment to funding and support entered into by the last Government. The previous Government entered into an agreement with an agency of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the International Labour Office to provide a fund to assist in ensuring that a particular programme of education and development would be made available to the South African Congress of Trade Unions for training in office equipment, maintenance and printing techniques. It was envisaged that this commitment would have a multi-annual dimension.
The participants who entered into the programme and their sponsors, the South African Congress of Trade Unions, believe that the commitment financed by Ireland and coming through the International Labour Office would run for more than one year. Accordingly, they were devastated to learn at the end of the first year that the programme had been terminated arbitrarily and that no follow on commitment in terms of funding was available, despite the fact that they were anxious to proceed with an extensive programme of personal development and further education. The Government should, without hesitation, make all the necessary arrangements to provide for the renewal and continuation of this programme.
In conclusion, I have covered three departmental areas for which this Minister is responsible and I regret to say he has recorded little progress in all of them, and in some there has been a positive reversal of the momentum he inherited.
Mr. McCartan Mr. McCartan
Mr. McCartan: On behalf of The Workers' Party I want to comment on the adoption of this Estimate for the Department of Labour for the coming year. One should always welcome expenditure on labour — in this instance the Department of Labour. It is especially important that money should be made available in times of high unemployment  but what concerns The Workers' Party is that so little is being delivered in return for the money being spent.
The role of the Department of Labour is becoming more and more crucial in times of massive unemployment when very little impact is being made on the unemployment figures and the training and employment schemes are becoming the real substitute for work and work creation. I borrow, to some extent, the words the Minister used when he told us Manpower programmes cannot and should not be equated with real jobs, to say that what the labour force want is real employment, not training schemes, not Manpower schemes, and not schemes of limited range and duration. Jobs are what are needed, what are being demanded, and what have so often been so cynically promised but rarely delivered.
In the context of that demand for real jobs and the preservation of existing jobs, the trade union movement have little difficulty in justifying — and as a member of The Workers' Party I have no difficulty in justifying — their attitude and approach to social employment schemes. As with Deputy O'Sullivan, I stand four square behind them in the position and approach they take. I am sure the Minister will take the opportunity, when responding to any ill-informed and narrow criticism of him, to agree that the trade union movement contribute very positively and constructively to the development of these programmes in very difficult circumstances. Deputies do not have any regard for the pressures on trade union leaders and representatives who are trying to advance, even in a limited way, these schemes in co-operation with the Government.
Miss Colley Miss Colley
Miss Colley: What about trade unions who give a blanket refusal?
Mr. McCartan Mr. McCartan
Mr. McCartan: I have never come across a trade union representative who blankly refused to consider social employment schemes and the Deputy is wrong to suggest that.
Miss Colley Miss Colley
Miss Colley: In Dublin Corporation?
Mr. McCartan Mr. McCartan
 Mr. McCartan: I have been involved in many representations by people in the Dublin area to the trade union movement——
Miss Colley Miss Colley
Miss Colley: In Dublin Corporation?
Mr. McCartan Mr. McCartan
Mr. McCartan: I appreciate their response and their co-operation in this area. The Minister said we should never equate Manpower programmes with real jobs. He went on to refer to one of the perceived major job creation projects at the Custom House Docks site. We must put that into perspective. It helps to illustrate more than anything else the limited gains being achieved by the Government in the area of job creation due to overreliance on the Manpower training schemes.
Recently two constituents of mine who live only a matter of miles from that project were advised by FÁS that they could put their names on the register and indicate their preference to work on the Custom House Docks project but they were also told very directly and honestly by the new Government information unit that their prospects were virtually nil. There was a reference in the letter to preference for local area employment with regard to such recruitment. The Custom House Docks site scheme was introduced and presented as a major development for the city of Dublin and a source of great employment in the city. However, we are now facing the reality. Workers living a short bus ride away from this great development, who pass it on a daily, or weekly basis if they can afford only to go once a week to Gardiner Street labour exchange, are now being told it does not offer any prospect of employment or training for them.
The two gentlemen whom I have mentioned went directly to the developer on site to ask if they could be considered for employment. He said that the matter was out of his hands which is, I understand, the way the scheme works. He complains that the referrals by FÁS are not suitable for his needs. I would not be so unkind  as to suggest that because the development is within the Minister's own constituency the decision is limited geographically, but I would ask him to look again at the definition of preference for local labour, because the net is being kept a little too narrow. One must have regard to the massive extent of unemployment existing right across the north city area where there were real expectations of some prospect of employment on that scheme.
The attitude of the Government in regard to emigration, in particular of our young unemployed people, is a matter of major concern. This aspect has been touched on by each of the previous speakers so far today. The views and comments of the Minister for Foreign Affairs will haunt the Government all the days of their term in office. It is a strong reminder that this Government consider the unemployed to be a burden, a problem which must be shifted on, by whatever means or device. Welfare schemes are to be welcomed and no-one would criticise the relevant allowance in the Estimates. The least that we can do, having forced these people to move abroad seeking work, is to ensure that they have basic minimum rights in the countries to which they are obliged to go. There is a much stronger attitude running through Government which has been detected, perhaps more abroad, in statements made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. This has recently manifested itself in the Government's own agency. The Minister for Social Welfare told the House on 26 April last — and I quote from the Official Report, column 1931:
FÁS do not, in fact, display advertisements for persons to apply for jobs in Britain.
In fact, that is not so. I want to paraphrase a letter dated 12 May on FÁS headed notepaper, to the effect that they had been notified by a company in Clonmel — which I shall not name for obvious reasons — of a number of overseas vacancies for electricians commencing on Monday, 16 May 1988. They stated that the work would commence in the United  Kingdom and the persons employed then would be transferred to construction sites in Belgium and Holland. A 70-hour work week was stipulated and the rate of remuneration for qualified electricians would be £4.30 sterling per hour, with an accommodation allowance of £86.80 sterling also payable. Third or fourth year apprentices would be paid at a reduced rate. People were given a contact name and number for further information. That was displayed at a local FÁS unemployment centre on their headed notepaper, advising the unemployed youth of Clonmel that if they want work they can find it in the UK to start with and then they can go to Belgium and Holland.
Mr. Birmingham Mr. Birmingham
Mr. Birmingham: Under the European Community regulations, we are obliged to do that.
Mr. McCartan Mr. McCartan
Mr. McCartan: This illustrates yet again an attitude which is rife throughout the Government, although this is often denied and the Government have sought to dissociate themselves from it. It is an appalling attitude which cannot be condoned. It amounts to a betrayal of our young people.
The Minister dealt with the whole area of industrial relations. An acknowledgment must be written into the record today of a welcome decrease in the number of days lost due to strikes, the lowest level for many a year. The Minister must be congratulated on his role in the solution of many industrial disputes that have arisen, in the ESB, CIE, the Dublin Fire Brigade. These are a few that immediately come to mind. It shows a willingness by all parties, when avenues of negotiation are available and used fully, to help to resolve any dispute in the labour market by discussion and constructive involvement on the part of all concerned.
However, I remind the House of a very unfortunate dispute which has been taking place since 21 March, that at the Irish Printed Circuits Limited plant here in Dublin — a dispute which, unbelievably, has run so long simply because  of the refusal of management to recognise a trade union and give it the right to negotiate on behalf of a wrongly dismissed worker. It is incredible that the proprietor is a former executive of the Industrial Development Authority. That is an Authority who have done much to develop good trade union relationships and expand trade union involvement and it is a great pity to see one of their departed lieutenants adopting this outdated, 19th century attitude to labour relations. It is also worth reminding the House that this is a company that have received in excess of £500,000 in grants from the Government and have an application pending for a similar amount. I ask the Government, through the Minister, to put a stop on that investment by our taxpayers until such time as attitudes become somewhat more reasonable regarding this dispute. I ask all those concerned to support the mass picket being held tomorrow at the premises, in the hope of bringing management quickly to their senses.
The last matter I wish to raise in the short time left to me is in the area of discrimination against women in the workplace and, in particular, in the training schemes operated by the Minister. The Minister knows this issue by heart and, as he told us on the last occasion, has answered this question so often. However, the matter will be raised until this anomaly is addressed. It is of the 10,500 women, merely the tip of the iceberg, who sign on on a weekly basis but not being in receipt of income are automatically excluded from employment in the social employment schemes. How many more women simply do not go to the bother of signing on who could and should sign on? We are taking about many thousands of women who would be and are willing to take part in these schemes but, because of what I consider to be a glaring anomaly, they are automatically not considered. As I have already said, the Minister has told us that he has answered this question so often that he knows the answer by heart, but that is not good enough. We will raise  this issue again and again until this rather invidious discrimination against women is addressed and the arguments about cost have been put aside in favour of a more enlightened approach in the interests of fairness and equality in the work place.
Mr. B. Ahern Mr. B. Ahern
Mr. B. Ahern: It is not just women who are being discriminated against.
Mr. McCartan Mr. McCartan
Mr. McCartan: In view of the Minister's very strong remarks on equality in the workplace I am arguing on their behalf. This is one small invidious discrimination which particularly militates against women. I would like to thank the Chair for giving me the opportunity to make what I consider to be pertinent remarks.
Mrs. Barnes Mrs. Barnes
Mrs. Barnes: I am glad Deputy McCartan at the conclusion of his contribution referred to some of the discriminations against women in the workplace. I take the point which the Minister made that it is not only women who are affected in this case, but I would like to think that the same arguments which are being used by all of the Members of this House in this case would be used in regard to the other discriminations against women in the workplace, not just in respect of the social employment scheme. That may be one glaring anomaly but the most glaring anomaly of all is the acceptance in these days of recession that women should not have equal job opportunities and that it is considered almost anti-social to provide them with any support or resources to enable them to carry out their duties, if they have a job in the first place.
Mr. Birmingham Mr. Birmingham
Mr. Birmingham: Creches are being closed down. There are parties in this House who do that.
Mrs. Barnes Mrs. Barnes
Mrs. Barnes: Exactly and I will refer to that in a few moments. First of all, I would like to refer to what the Minister said in his speech. He said, and I particularly welcome this, that the combination of resources within FÁS should also give  added impetus to planning for equal opportunities and that, building on the initiatives pursued by their forerunners, the new streamlined authority are to bring forward an integrated action programme identifying opportunities for positive action. I would like to turn that language around a bit to read that FÁS must give an impetus to planning for equal opportunities. I would also like to think that FÁS will bring forward an integrated action programme identifying opportunities for positive action because I think, and the Minister may agree with me, that there have not been up to now a great number of integrated action programmes identifying opportunities for positive action.
Can the Minister tell us if notices have gone out to all the officials who work within FÁS, particularly in the employment offices, that specific questions being asked of women which would not be asked of men are no longer acceptable and that there should be no stereotyping of roles? Again and again I hear that such an approach is not part of the working programmes of a great number of offices. The Minister also said that he has been urging employers to recognise that our provision for training and development at company level is too narrow, too little and for too few. At present we are planning for the competition which we will face in an integrated Europe and this is all the more reason why we should make sure that not only are we keeping up with the rest of the countries of Europe, but that we are surpassing them.
It is disappointing to note that only 5.5 per cent of all employees have received some training. This figure is taken from an 1986 labour force survey for Ireland. Can the Minister tell us whether there is any breakdown of that figure of 5.5 per cent available in terms of how many men and how many women received training? In a recent television programme it was pointed out that many British companies, in particular those which traditionally would have been described as male companies — Britain has been mentioned as having a higher level of training and development — have discovered that  management and industrial relations which are inextricably linked have improved beyond expectation through the introduction of women supervisors and women in management. Development managers within these companies are now arguing that the potential of women which has been wasted on the factory floor for so long should be developed and that some of their characteristics should be integrated into the male development programme. I am not chauvinistic enough to argue one sex over the other, but it is appropriate that we should look at this area. I am convinced that, if we brought more of those characteristics into the area of industrial relations and had a more equitable distribution of management skills, we would put an end once and for all to many of the difficulties which we are experiencing at present.
One thing which I am always reminded of is that no matter how justifiable a strike is, it is the employees who lose out at the end of the day, not just financially but also psychologically. I ask the Minister to take this dimension on board in drawing up national development programmes. I note that the Minister appointed an advisory committee on management training in July 1987 which he has asked to report by June of this year. We are all looking forward to the publication of that report. If we find that women have been excluded yet again I have no doubt that several of us will be making our views known.
Would it be possible for the Minister to give us a breakdown of the ESF assistance which we have received? We are all aware that there is going to be a doubling of these funds between now and 1992 and that the total amount of ESF assistance which we have received since 1973 exceeds £890 million. Is any breakdown of that figure available and can the Minister tell us how much of that assistance has gone into the training of men and women? What concerns me, and what I know concerns the Minister, is that there is not the same level of participation by women in apprenticeship of training courses as men and, in this context, I  welcome the fact that FÁS have set up one positive action programme which is attempting to introduce women to higher technological training courses.
We have had equal employment opportunity legislation here since 1977. Since then most of the new technological industries have been established here. While there had been a tremendous difference between the earnings of men and women and the number of supervisory management staff in traditional industries it was all the more shocking to learn that the ICTU and Employment Equality Agency reported that there had been no change in that discrimination against women, that the gap that existed in traditional industries remains in the new technological ones. We must not neglect to redress that discrimination. I contend that a large amount of the extra moneys from the European Social Fund should be utilised on positive programmes to ensure that such discrimination against women is not perpetrated in new industries being established here.
I should like to acknowledge and recognise the new FÁS training course entitled New Technology for Women and also a recent management training course run by RTE specifically for women on their staff. Through rigorous interviewing they discovered many potential skills among women at lower levels which could be deployed at management level. Accordingly, they ran this specific management course for them. The Minister and his Department might monitor that course in order to ascertain whether it yielded the desired results. If it proved to be successful it might well constitute a model or blueprint which the Minister could direct be adopted by other companies. I note that there were 40 places available for women on the FÁS training course and that there were over 800 applicants. This would seem to prove the need for an extension of such training course.
I welcome also the legislation proposed with regard to safety and health in the workplace. We are inclined to forget that work is about much more than mere money; it also has to do very much with the security, safety and health of  workers. It is also shocking to realise that, even with the huge strides and changes that have taken place in regard to labour and labour relations, it is more than 50 years since some of our labour legislation has been reformed. Probably that is the reason there are such difficulties still being encourtered in the workplace.
One cannot speak about employment without referring also to the whole problem of unemployment. I should like to think that all parties in this House would concentrate on the recent Fine Gael policy for a basic income for all workers over 18 years of age. Such a policy and its proper implementation would remove the stigma attached to unemployment, eliminate much wasteful bureaucracy and prevent the marginalisation of people who do no to appear to be contributing in a meaningful way, whereas it should be recognised that voluntary or part time contributions are of tremendous importance.
We must examine the whole structure of employment to ensure that it is more flexible, allows for job sharing, in turn ensuring that, within households, work will be shared equally, so that people can work inside and outside the home in a way that will reap the same income but in a more shared and equal manner.
The Minister is on record as saying that equality of opportunity does not mean merely the absence of discrimination. It is that vacuum that must be filled and in respect of which there must be positive action taken.
Minister for Labour (Mr. B. Ahern) Bertie Ahern
Minister for Labour (Mr. B. Ahern): I should like to thank the spokespersons and other Deputies who contributed to the debate. I will endeavour to utilise the short time available to me to answer some of the queries raised. I do not propose to go into a debate on what I may have said last year or the conditions obtaining when I took office in the Department of Labour.
Since last year I have spoken about three or four areas needing to be tackled. It must be acknowledged that, in the  conditions prevailing in this House at present, one cannot do things without the co-operation of the Opposition spokespersons. I sought that co-operation last year on the establishment of FAS and the processing of the relevant legislation — which had been introduced at very short notice at the end of a session — so that we might be given an opportunity to begin the work in the remaining six months of last year. We received that co-operation. FÁS has been established, not without many difficulties; there would be no point in saying otherwise.
I acknowledge many of Deputy Colley's remarks. She demonstrated that she is well briefed on many internal controversies and arguments. She is correct in that there was much controversy of one kind or another which arose in the period when the interim board was established on 30 September. I agree with Deputies who said it was a pity that all of the necessary preparatory work was not undertaken in advance. I would have to admit that it was not done. However, that would not have justified delaying the establishment of the board because, had that not been done, we could not have commenced our work. However, one would acknowledge that, in more normal circumstances, one would go about it in a different manner. The organisation had to be established, its board and management structures set up, so as to get on with the various activities called for. Considerable progress has been made in the meantime. For example, the regional structure is now fully in place, a much different type of structure reduced from approximately ten tiers to three. This means that the appropriate personnel now meet members of the public more readily than was the case under the old, larger-tiered structure. Again is has to be acknowledged that many of the agreements, practices and so on obtaining were not satisfactory to modern management. There had to be negotiation with the various unions involved with a view to ensuring that progress was made.
Deputies Colley and Birmingham asked if there would be a review of the operations of FÁS carried out at an early  date. I should say that working groups involving the people concerned were established back in January and February last. These groups have reported on what they see as being necessary to eliminate duplication and integrate programmes. For example, there is a working group concerned with apprenticeship who will report fully by the end of the year. It would appear they will recommend fairly fundamental changes, which will be implemented. We have initiated a pilot scheme for the rationalisation of the business enterprise programmes. There are now different attitudes to and work practices being engaged in with regard to a number of other schemes.
I might mention also the worker participation and offshore safety legislation processed in the course of the year. I think we shall have enacted three Acts. There are also a number of orders, for example, those in respect of women's night work and insolvency. There is also the management review committee, probably better known as the Galvin Committee. It has been confirmed that they will report on target, incorporating a major review of management practices. I should like to acknowledge the commitment of the members of the Galvin Committee, particularly that of Mr. Paddy Galvin, the Chairman, who, in conjunction with his fellow members, has done a tremendous job.
Deputy Birmingham will be glad to hear that his suggestion about good ideas will be taken up by FÁS and within FÁS a new section has been set up to deal with co-operatives. This will be announced tomorrow. The section has a separate budget, separate people and it is a separate organisation. It takes time to do that but it will be there. FÁS set up their own agency to sell their services. This has been in operation for two months and is achieving considerable success. CERT, in selling their own services and trying to bring in income, are having considerable success. This was dealt with in the part of my script that I did not get to.
Deputy O'Sullivan raised the question of the Barrington legislation. The Department were far from having a Bill  ready when I took office, but I am now on the final draft of the Bill. I said before that it is unfair to suggest that anyone dealing with that legislation was dragging his feet. I believe everyone has worked extremely hard, but it is extremely complex legislation. Deputy Birmingham and others who have first-hand knowledge of it would know that. This morning the Attorney General and officials are still working on some sections where there are still major difficulties. Deputy Birmingham mentioned before that when the Bill comes before the House it will have to go to Committee because it is also technical. They are trying very hard at a technical level to clear as many amendments as possible.
A review of the Payment of Wages Act is completed. We now have proposals for the social partners and we are making progress on it within the Department. Last year I said we would start the process of putting together our views on industrial relations and that we would have it done by Christmas. We would then enter into talks with the social partners which would be completed by the 30 May. There was some delay which was not the fault of the Department of Labour or the social partners. The final meeting has taken place and I hope we will be going to the Government within a matter of two to three weeks.
The review of the conditions of employment is finished and a very bulky presentation on all of the Acts has been produced. The Department officials and the unions dealing with this have highlighted clearly the areas where changes should take place. We are going to proceed with that.
During the year we had an awareness campaign on emigration. We issued booklets which were acknowledged by all Deputies in the House to be of value. We work in conjunction with DÍON and with FÁS trainees. Deputy Birmingham will be glad to hear that a scheme which he initiated was suitably acknowledged by Fr. Scully in London on Wednesday when I was there for the opening of a centre for the elderly. The Deputy's contribution is  not forgotten. Work is proceeding and quite a lot is happening in that area.
The Federation of Irish Clubs greatly acknowledge the support of all parties in this House. They are continuing to make great strides. People are inclined to talk about all the negative things about emigration but the federation are stronger than ever. The are more active than ever and are making a great impact. I am sure that it was noticed that the European Commissioner for Social Affairs Mr. Marin was here yesterday. We had talks at great length with the Department of Labour and the Department of Education. We have members of the Department in Europe who deal with the European Social Fund almost on a permanent basis. Our interests are being well served.
There is a joint group of the Department of Social Welfare and the Department of Labour dealing with the issue of the long term unemployed. They are trying to do what Deputy Colley has been continually suggesting, and I acknowledge her contribution over the past 12 months. I am glad people acknowledge that small things have been done during the past year for the long term unemployed, particularly the increase in the budget. Whatever about the negative effects of Jobsearch, it genuinely helps the long term unemployed, all the surveys to date said that.
The structure and programmes of FÁS have all been reviewed. The apprenticeship scheme and the enterprise scheme have all been examined and reviewed and a great deal of progress has been made in this area.
Mr. O'Sullivan Mr. O'Sullivan
Mr. O'Sullivan: What has been the contribution from CERT?
Mr. B. Ahern Mr. B. Ahern
Mr. B. Ahern: The final meetings between the Hotel Federation and the chairman and members of the staff of CERT are either completed or to be completed in the next few days. There is agreement on the level of contribution for the most part. However, I believe the actual amount of money has not been  agreed yet. CERT are quite satisfied they will get a contribution. If they do not, a decision was taken last July that the Government will cut the services that CERT provide. Deputy O'Sullivan is right. The industry only contributed £15,000 out of a total budget of £5 million. A Government order of July 1987 demanded that they must pay their contribution. It may be hard for some of the organisations to accept that but the matter is being pursued and will be implemented. The Government's decision will have to be implemented.
Deputy O'Sullivan referred to development aid, but he was misinformed. There is no commitment to funding for a continuing period. The Deputy will be glad to hear that I met with Mr. Norushe of the South African Trade Union Congress last week. He appreciates the work that was done by the FÁS trainees and asked us to look at further programmes. I agreed to pursue the matter with the new subsidiary, FÁS and I will raise the matter of bilateral aid with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I will raise it also at the ILO conference in Geneva in some weeks time.”
Deputy McCartan raised a number of points but I will refer only to two. I will deal with the question of youth employment. The youth groups around the country made some criticism of FÁS and said that they do not use the service. Whether we like it or not, our young people are European-minded. People ten or 15 years younger have a different view. When I attend conferences up and down the country the youth tell me that when we joined the EC, the free movement of labour was one of the prime attractions, and FÁS are not involved in promoting European schemes. They say there is a system to advertise various opportunities in Europe and why are we not using it? That is coming from the young people themselves. Rather than taking the negative view, we should look at the opportunities that are out there in Europe. Our young people are going abroad and they want us to give them the information. This is a point we have to consider. I hate the idea of helping people to go abroad.
 You are immediately accused of advertising wholesale emigration. That is not what I am doing. Articulate, educated young people are telling me they want to go to Europe.
Mr. McCartan Mr. McCartan
Mr. McCartan: Those who are welleducated are well-equipped to go. It is those who are ill-educated and ill-equipped who are going.
Mr. B. Ahern Mr. B. Ahern
Mr. B. Ahern: The Department of Labour in their advisory documents are trying to stop ill-equipped, ill-prepared people going abroad, but many people have a different view. On the docks site issue the Deputy raised, his points are valid.
Deputy Barnes questioned the opportunities for women. I have a great deal of information which I can give the Deputy but I do not have the time now. However we will consult with the Deputy. I did not have an opportunity in my speech to mention the Great Southern Hotel group. The hotels and CERT are referred to in the text.
Disagreement between myself and the Labour Court was referred to. The matter concerned discussion documents which they wished to raise with me but which were issued to the press almost before I had seen them. I acknowledge the great work the Labour Court do, and have done since 1946. Naturally any suggestions they make will be taken on board before we finalise matters with other interest groups.
It is regrettable that I have not got more time as I have many more issues to raise. Finally I thank the spokespersons and the Deputies who have contributed to the debate for their comments and criticism. Some of the valid points made will be followed through particularly in relation to the development of FÁS and in relation to its progress during 1988.
Acting Chairman (Mr. S. Walsh) Acting Chairman (Mr. S. Walsh)
Acting Chairman (Mr. S. Walsh): I am putting the question: “That the Estimate  for Labour for the year ending 31 December 1988 is hereby agreed to”. Is this agreed?
Mr. O'Sullivan Mr. O'Sullivan
Mr. O'Sullivan: Níl.
Acting Chairman Acting Chairman
Acting Chairman: Will those in favour say tá and those against say níl. I think the motion is carried.
Mr. O'Sullivan Mr. O'Sullivan
Mr. O'Sullivan: Votáil.
Acting Chairman Acting Chairman
Acting Chairman: It was agreed that in the event of a division being challenged, the division shall take place on Wednesday next, 1 June 1988 at 8.30 p.m.
Dáil Éireann 381 Estimates, 1988. Vote 34: Labour.