Legislation to tackle ‘zero hour’ contracts is urgently required to improve the lot of low-paid and part-time workers according to general election candidate Una Dunphy (PBP-AAA).
“As a TUI rep in teaching, this is something I come across this all the time,” Ms Dunphy said during the WLRfm debate in Garter Lane, which was broadcast yesterday (Monday) morning.
“For example, if a teacher got one hour (of work) per day for five days, they can’t sign on and no-one can survive in such a manner. So something should be done when it comes to social welfare so that people get paid according to the hours they work as opposed to on a one hour per day basis as there’s no way anyone can survive on that.
“Precarious contracts are everywhere – they’re across every section of society – particularly during austerity and large corporations tend to abuse this situation as well. We’ve seen it in Dunnes and we’re seeing it in Tesco at the moment – workers need to be supported across every section of society.”
Meanwhile, Ms Dunphy believes that pensioners “deserve a great deal more than a €3 a week increase”.
She added: “The outgoing government increased the Old Age Pension by a mere €3 per week, after an eight-year freeze: this is totally inadequate as over 50 per cent of pensioners rely solely on the State Old Age Pension,” she said.
Since January 1st 2014, which Ms Dunphy referenced in a statement last week, the outgoing government changed the age of receipt of the pension to 66, and when it comes to those aged 56 or under, this payment has been moved out to the age of 68.
Ms Dunphy stated: “This extended the age of entitlement to OAP further that any other European Government, with the exception of the UK Tories. The government has abolished the telephone allowance, cut fuel allowance and reduced home help hours.
“People Before Profit will campaign to restore the retirement age to 65, restore the transition year pension, and for the State pensions to reach a target of 40 per cent of the average wage. And those who want to stay at work for longer should be allowed to do so.”
Una Dunphy has also called for an abolition of prescription charges on medicines, the “universal social right to a medical card and free medical care for the over 70s”.
She continued: “The next government must help reduce the isolation of elderly people by restoring the telephone allowance. The Troika suggested the removal of the free travel scheme. We should protect this right with a constitutional amendment.”
Ms Dunphy described the ‘zero allocation’ of additional beds at UHW to cope with the ‘winter surge’ as “a scandal”, especially given the higher levels of excess winter mortality in Ireland when compared to the European average.
“Adequate home help hours reduce the incident of our elderly folk having to be hospitalised,” she said, also stating that the Fuel Allowance should be restored to 32 weeks. “And increased spending should be used for weekend home help hours and extra home help packages.”