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Labour ministers back delay on legislation for low-paid workers

Labour Party ministers last night backed the decision not to bring in emergency legislation to protect vulnerable workers covered by the wage setting system for the low paid.

After the High Court ruled the Joint Labour Committee system was unconstitutional, the Government was looking at ways to protect low-paid workers.

But the Attorney General advised it wasn't viable to either appeal the decision or bring in emergency legislation.

The existing contracts of almost 200,000 low-paid workers are safe -- for now -- following the striking down of the setting down of minimum wages.

But workers who renew or take up new employment contracts in sectors including catering and hairdressing will be subject to lower rates of pay and inferior working conditions after the court case.

Instead, Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton is going to put the response on hold until he finalises his contentious reform of the area.

And Mr Bruton's proposed changes have come under fire from Labour backbenchers.

But a spokesperson for Labour in Government said the junior coalition partners supported the decision adopted.

"We are where we are. That's the advice of the AG. That's the Government position," the spokesperson said.

Mr Bruton's proposals did not come up at Cabinet yesterday, but are expected to be finalised before summer break.

The minister said the Attorney General assured him that the drafting of legislation required by the proposals "will be treated with the highest priority by her office".

"My department will also treat this issue with the most extreme urgency.

"My intention is that legislation be introduced to the Dail very early in the next term with prioritised enactment thereafter. My department officials are meeting with the chief whip tomorrow at which this legislation, and how best it can be speedily enacted, will be discussed," he said.

Irish Independent