A number of issues have been raised in the Deputy's question to which I will respond as follows. I do not propose to amend labour law on redundancy as there are adequate protections in the Redundancy and Unfair Dismissals Acts. Severance terms are a matter for negotiation between employers and employees. However, there are conditions for such arrangements to qualify for funding under the Redundancy Payments Acts. Under the statutory redundancy payments scheme, where an employee is immediately replaced in the same job by another employee, whether from another country or not, a statutory redundancy situation is not deemed to arise.
In any such situation, the employees concerned who feel they have been unfairly displaced in their employment, can then take a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2001. There are no distinctions as to employment conditions between Irish and non-Irish workers. All labour law on the Statute Book in Ireland applies to non-national workers working in this country in the same way as it applies to Irish workers. If a non-national worker feels he or she is being treated by his or her employer in a way that breaches any of this employee protection legislation, it will be open to him or her to refer their case for adjudication to a quasi judicial body person such as a Rights Commissioner, the Labour Court or the Employment Appeals Tribunal.
The composition and skill mix of our labour force continues to change in response to the international pressures, affecting both the manufacturing and service sectors. It is fair to say that our strengths and competitive advantages, especially compared with low wage economies, have fundamentally changed. Ireland's economy is now typified by high output and productivity, together with high returns to labour in the form of wages, salaries and better living standards. Ireland has become a more prosperous and wealthy economy, converging with the broad income and prosperity levels of other member states of the EU. I doubt if anyone would have it any other way.
In a borderless Europe, which places no restrictions on where people can work or where investors can do business, there will always be competition for work and investment. One of the Government's key objectives is to develop a competitive economy that will be resilient to the toughest competitive pressures, either from within the EU or elsewhere. It is committed to making sure that when companies decide to invest, Ireland will retain its reputation as a secure, profitable and world class investment location. I am also committed to Ireland having a participatory society based on social justice. We are all committed to ensuring Ireland is responsive to the constantly evolving requirements of international competitiveness necessary for continuing economic and social success.