The Labour Party remained silent last night on the latest reforms affecting low-paid workers being proposed by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton.
r Bruton came under fire over proposals to allow employers hire staff from agencies on lower wages than permanent employees. The move comes after the minister already got agreement on reforms for low-paid workers in the hospitality sector, which will drive down wages there.
Government sources said the proposals would improve the entitlements of agency workers as it would provide them with employment rights for the first time.
But the proposals would also initially allow companies to pay lower wages to temporary agency workers for up to six months.
After this delay, the employer would have to bring them up to the same pay levels as their permanent staff.
However, this delay in applying the EU Directive on Temporary Agency Work can only be brought in with agreement from unions and employers.
The country's largest trade union said it would reject any attempt to negotiate a delay in applying equal rights to permanent and agency staff.
SIPTU said it was wrong to say full implementation of the directive would cause a loss of jobs and said "constant attempts to frighten workers" to discourage them from asserting their right to fair treatment is no longer working.
Sinn Fein's David Cullinane said Mr Bruton's proposed delay was "a crusade against pay and conditions".