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At the European level, what the pandemic has cast doubt on is the very fundamentals of European integration. The main features of the European Union, what could be described as its “pillars”, are these: the single market and freedom of movement, the euro and the Stability and Growth Pact, and competition and state-aid law. We can already look ahead and see that the post-crisis EU could be standing on very different foundations if the questioning of the three basic pillars continues over time or, conversely, it could just as easily go back to its old ways.  What will the world environment in which this happens be, though? Here there are four possible scenarios emerging.


Covid-19 has caused us to think about many things that previously we may never really have considered: the importance of good public services; the need for a social security system that provides real security in the face of sickness and unemployment; and about concepts such as inter-dependence and solidarity.  It has led us to reassess what we mean by ‘essentially work’; who really are the ‘essential workers’; and is it right that many of them are treated the way they are.  And it has fundamentally changed the relationship between business and the state.

The National Economic Plan - to be published on Budget day - must give equal weight to environmental, social and economic considerations. Otherwise, this Government will simply repeat the mistakes of the past and many will be left behind.  The National Economic Plan must be underpinned by a new social contract that treats our environment, society and economy equally

'Building a New Social Contract – Policy Recommendations’ contains more than eighty specific policy recommendations that would go a considerable direction towards a new social contract to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of everyone and ensure that a no-one is left behind as our economy and society recovers from the impact of Covid-19.


The jobs crisis precipitated by the Covid-19 health crisis looks set to be felt for years to come, with a recovery not expected until after 2021.  There is a real danger that this jobs crisis will lead to an increase in poverty and exacerbate existing inequalities.  The plan for Resilience and Recovery, the National Economic Plan and Budget 2021 must ensure that the jobs crisis we currently face does not turn into a social crisis. 

As we navigate through the global crisis caused by Covid-19, it is clear that our communities, rural areas and regions will bear a significant social and economic impact over the long-term.  Here we outline rural and regional investment priorities for Budget 2021.

It is concerning the new Programme for Government does not mention youth unemployment or a strategy to tackle it, particularly given the manner in which young people will likely be disproportionately affected by unemployment as the economy recovers from Covid-19. 


‘A Rising Tide Failing to Lift All Boats’ is the latest publication in Social Justice Ireland’s European Research Series.   This report analyses performance in areas such as poverty and inequality, employment, access to key public services and taxation.  The report also points to key policy proposals and alternatives for discussion.  These include the right to sufficient income, meaningful work and access to essential quality services.  The policy proposals explore how these areas might be delivered upon in a changing world.

Last week, the CSO published the Live Register data, showing 513,350 people in receipt of some form of welfare support.  An estimated 492,000 workers in Ireland may lose thier jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic alone.  Approximately one in five of all employed.  The worst affected sectors are retail, hospitality, recreation, non-essential manufacturing and construction sectors.  Many of these jobs are defined by instances of low-pay and precarity.  Short-term income supports are welcome as we get through this crisis, however long-term measures are required to sustain these sectors.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) today published data in respect of the Live Register showing a combined total of 513,350 for those on the Live Register and those in receipt of COVID-19 Related Payments.  While over half of these people are in receipt of the COVID-19 payments, there is a significant rise in those on the Live Register (and not in receipt of a COVID-19 Related Payment) for less than one year.  This highlights the need to provide Decent Work as a key tenet of any new Social Contract and the need to recognise that the term "work" is not synonymous with a job.

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