You are here

Policy issues concerning Work

There has been a profound failure of policy across the EU since the 2008 crash, a failure that raises serious questions concerning the EU’s commitment to protecting its millions of powerless and vulnerable people, according to Social Justice Ireland’s latest research study on EU developments.

  • There are 272,000 fewer full-time jobs in Ireland today compared to 2007 (-15%).
  • The number of people in part-time jobs is 55,700 higher than in 2007 (+14%).
  • More than a quarter (115,500) of part-time workers are underemployed.
  • Between 2010 and end-2014 the number long-term unemployed fell by 48,700.
  • But, in the same period the net loss of Irish people to emigration was 123,800.
  • 58% of those unemployed are long-term unemployed (more than one year).

The Government’s Low Pay Commission should agree to raise the minimum wage towards the living wage level and should also make the two basic income tax credits refundable if they are to really address the ‘working poor’ issue.

The scale and severity of the 2008-2010 economic collapse saw Ireland revert to the phenomenon of widespread unemployment.   The scale and nature of our unemployment crisis deserves greater attention, in particular given the scale of long-term unemployment. Addressing unemployment and the need for investment are key parts of Social Justice Ireland’s Policy Framework for a Just Ireland. A full analysis of the challenges and our proposals on Work are contained in our Socio-Economic Review 2015 ‘Towards a Just Society’.  The chapter is available below.

This article was originally published here. It was written by Selim Jahan Director of the UN Human Development Report Office

From a human development perspective, work, rather than jobs or employment is the relevant concept.

The 2014 Living Wage for the Republic of Ireland has been calculated by the Living Wage Technical Group at €11.45 per hour.  Social Justice Ireland believes this should become the minimum wage and should be adopted by all employers, public and private, without delay.
The Living Wage Technical Group, of which Social Justice Ireland is a member, has also launched:

An Oireachtas Committee report published February 19, 2013 recommends that Government consider the proposal to create a Part-Time Job Opportunities programme advocated by Social Justice Ireland.

Ireland's unemployment level is the fourth highest in the European Union according to the latest statistics published by Eurostat (January 8, 2013).  The unemployment rate in the EU is now 10.7% (up from 10.0% a year ago). In the Euro area unemployment is higher at 11.8% (up from 10.6% a year ago). It is clear that austerity is not working.  An alternative approach is required.

Return to work patterns are often a function of more than financial rewards and include such considerations as work availability, family commitments, travel to work time and the type of available employment. However, financial incentives are important and these depend on the balance between the individual/family’s disposable income when employed and when unemployed. 

Among the EU Member States in 2011, underemployed part-time work was highest in Ireland (6.3 % of the labour force) according to the latest EU Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review. The Review also shows that Ireland’s youth unemployment rate is among the highest in the EU (over 30%).