Friday 24 November 2017

Use taxes to create high-class graduates, President urges

President Michael D. Higgins
President Michael D. Higgins

Anne-Marie Walsh

President Michael D Higgins has urged that graduates' taxes are used to make even better graduates.

He said taxes generated due to State investment that has benefited businesses should be "recycled" to "create the capacity for ever-more high-class skills".

Mr Higgins told a conference of the country's unions that if you do not "do it like that", you may be providing an "intellectual subsidy" for other economies.

He also warned that a concentration of media ownership is serving those who hold "unaccountable power".

Mr Higgins said this power was being used to prevent workers "knowing the basis for policy choices that affect their lives".

He told delegates from over 40 unions at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' biennial conference in Belfast that they face a number of new challenges.

Separately, a union leader urged the minister for higher education to look after teachers on short-term contracts "because she has recent experience of precarious employment".

General secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) Mike Jennings got a laugh when he referred to Mary Mitchell O'Connor losing her jobs minister portfolio in the Cabinet reshuffle.

"I'm hoping the new minister, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, will be on our side," he added.

The general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Patricia King, meanwhile warned that robotics, automation and artificial intelligence are transforming everything from retail to banking, to the provision of medical care.

"We encounter examples everyday as we go about our normal lives," she said. "Many of these developments have caused job displacement and some predictions are bleak."

Ms King also committed to deal with issues that are major stumbling blocks to a new draft deal between public servants and the Government, namely lower pay rates for new entrants and some workers' demands for extra pay in recognition of recruitment and retention issues.

Irish Independent

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