Two events earlier this month have put global development at the forefront of the Government’s Irish Aid programme’s objectives for 2013. First, the Department of Foreign Affairs co-hosted, with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a forum on Women entrepreneurs in Developing Countries. This was followed by a forum on global poverty with the World Alliance of Cities against Poverty. Naturally, placing socio-economic rights at the forefront of aid and development discussions should be expected to be at the core of these events, however, far too often and increasingly of late, such debates and programmes have become overshadowed and, perhaps, even hijacked by liberal economic concerns. Such economics concerns increasingly appear to possess more weight and often better articulated than a rights based approach or development as a good in itself to be fulfilled. The focus on women and the urban poor is to be welcomed in both instances, yet the conscious effort to phrase these attempts to bring about substantive change in an economic rather than in a rights/dignity setting is a matter of increasing concern.
The first event, centred on access to education and reproductive health, both also Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Continue reading “The Rationales for Development for Women and the Urban Poor”
There is an interesting article in the Winnipeg Free Press about discriminatory laws that permit the payment of below minimum wages to persons with disabilities. See here. Employment law in Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan authorise this underpayment provided that the responsible Minister issues a permit. A freedom of information request showed that 15 permits have been issued in the past 5 years. See here. There is a similar provision in Irish law by way of section 35 of the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2008. Section 35 provides that it is not unlawful for an employer to pay a different rate to an employee with a disability “by reason of that disability, the employee is restricted in his or her capacity to do the same amount of work (or to work the same hours) as a person who is employed to do work of that description but who is without that disability.” It is my understanding that this provision is rarely used in Ireland. The rationale presumably for allowing different rates of pay to disabled employees is to facilitate persons with disabilities to acquire the skills and experience necessary to actively participate in the labour market. However, these types of provisions are ineffective, seldom used and ultimately serve to undermine the social capital of persons with disabilities. Regardless of the intentions the practice raises many issues from a human rights perspective, particularly in light of the Continue reading “Equal Pay for Employees with Disabilities”
On this day in 1901, the House of Commons debated the Factory and Workshop Bill. Many of the Irish MPs argued that the Magdalene laundries should be excluded from its remit, and from the regime of inspection which was designed to improve working conditions throughout Britain and Ireland. At the time there were 912 inmates in 10 Catholic Magdalene Laundries in Ireland (see the 1901 census return for High Park in Drumcondra here). Earlier that summer, the Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, John Redmond (pictured left), had argued as follows for the exemption of Magdalene laundries from the provisions of the Factory and Workshop Acts on June 11:
The claim we make is confined to those institutions, reformatory in their character, in which the labour employed is the labour of fallen women who have been taken by these charitable ladies, who have brought them into these institutions and provided them with work and with means of salvation from continuing in their evil courses […] I am sure that it is quite unnecessary for me to emphasise the fact that the kind of charity which is exercised by the ladies in these institutions is probably the noblest charity which anybody could possibly engage in. I do not think it is necessary for me to go another step further and say that this particular charity is not only the noblest that the wit of man can conceive, but it is also the most difficult of all charities to conduct. The great object of these ladies is to keep these girls in those institutions. The organisations I refer to are great societies like the Society of the Good Shepherd, which exists in every country in the world, has been employed for years and generations, and perhaps centuries, in carrying on this work, and it has, therefore, the most experience in the carrying on of this work. The members of this Society of the Good Shepherd are unanimously of opinion that the introduction into their institutions of an outside authority in the shape of Government inspectors would completely destroy the discipline of their institutions, and make their already almost impossible task absolutely impossible. When that is remembered, I think the House ought to hesitate before it forces upon these institutions provisions which, however necessary they may be in ordinary factories, are not suitable for, and ought not to be forced upon institutions of this kind. It is not as if any case had ever been made out in support of the inspection of these institutions. No one urges that they are insanitary, or that an improper number of hours is imposed upon the inmates. We all know that in these institutions there is inspection, although not Government inspection. There is an inspection by the superiors of the religious orders to which they belong, which makes it impossible either for insanitary arrangements to exist or improper hours of labour to be enforced.
Continue reading “Irish Legal History: Fathers of Nationalism & the Magdalene Laundries”
This is our second guest post from Dr. Elaine Dewhurst. You can read about Elaine on our Guest Contributors page.
In 2009, the International Labour Organisation reported (World of Work Report 2009) that over 6.1 million jobs had been lost in the EU with an increased unemployment rate across the EU of 9.3% and the average number of working hours per person decreasing to 40.3 hours. The ILO warned that these statistics revealed that the labour market in the European Union was making a “sluggish” recovery and that the European Union faced the risk of increased long-term unemployment resulting in skills deterioration and labour market detachment, particularly in groups such as older workers and young people. So how could states ensure a broader global recovery?
The Budget 2010 sought to take “bold, decisive and innovative steps to manage [their] way through this crisis”. This amounted, in reality, to a cut of €4 billion euro to Government spending. This contrasts starkly with the advice of many international bodies, including the International Labour Organisation who argued that the only sustainable way out of the present crisis in the European Union in general was through “Employment-Oriented Measures” including the development of public infrastructure, social protection, support for vulnerable groups, labour market skills and training programmes and initiatives for “greening” the economy.
Continue reading “Dewhurst on Budget 2010: The Right to Work in Ireland”