Amendments Nos. 2 and 18 are related and are to be discussed together.
Industrial Relations (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2011: Report Stage
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 6, line 4, to delete "the desirability of agreeing and maintaining" and substitute "the agreeing and maintaining of".
Every time we begin a debate on this issue, it is important to put it in the context of what we are trying to achieve. Today we heard the shocking figure that the unemployment rate has increased to 14.9%. It has reached crisis level. The number of long-term unemployed has increased to almost 200,000. In other words, 200,000 families' futures are very precarious. Their present circumstances are also very precarious in that they are struggling to deal with the day-to-day costs of life. They have very little hope. The rate of emigration is at an epidemic level. As was stated here, nine people are emigrating from the State per hour.
Wages are being reduced in the joint labour committees, JLC, sector. I brought forward legislation a year ago on this subject in the hope of putting in place a floor or a system whereby affected individuals would have their wages and livelihoods protected. Unfortunately, within the past year, legislation in this area has not been implemented. We are now at a stage in which the individuals affected are having their wages cut.
We must remind ourselves that more than 200,000 people in the State function in what was known as the JLC sector. They work and survive on an average of €18,000 per annum, which is half the average wage. It is a small fraction of the wages of Teachtaí Dála and Ministers. This is part of a downward spiral leading to a cut in demand because people do not have money to spend. This leads to unemployment. Therefore, what we put in place in this Chamber ought to be robust and defend the livelihoods of individuals. It must also take into consideration the cost of small business and allow small businesses to function.
My amendment should be considered seriously by the Minister. It concerns the "desirability" of agreeing and maintaining a fair and substantial rate of remuneration. The word "desirability" dilutes the necessity for the system to maintain fair and sustainable rates of remuneration. On Committee Stage, the Minister gave the impression that this was a moot point. In other words, he felt it would make no real difference to how the legislation would be interpreted. If so, the word "desirability" should not be a sticking point for him. According to his thinking, the word does not have an effect. We believe the phrasing does not constitute a moot point and that it dilutes the legal basis on which a decision may be made. Therefore, we ask the Minister to agree to the amendment.
I echo the statement of my colleague. We are all pretty shattered by the latest figures from the CSO, issued this morning, which show the unemployment rate has risen to 14.9%, while emigration continues unabated. A really staggering statistic is that more than half, or approximately half, of those unemployed have been unemployed for 12 months or more. My information suggests that almost one in three has been unemployed for two years or more, which is truly startling. Any jobs legislation or subject discussed in the House in the context of enterprise and employment must be discussed with this in mind.
The section to which the amendment pertains stipulates that, in formulating proposals for a registered employment agreement, the Labour Court must take into account a number of points, including the desirability of agreeing and maintaining fair and sustainable rates of remuneration in the sector in question. We all know that, apart from the social justice element, the people we are legislating for are those who are at the very bottom of the pile in terms of pay. For many, it is hardly worth their while going to work, as recent ESRI studies have shown. Apart from acknowledging the social justice aspect, it is vital for the economy to ensure the people in question earn a decent wage. They are compelled to spend every penny they earn. I know many of them and see they are struggling from week to week. If they had a few more euro to spend, they would be glad to get them. They are spending everything and, therefore, every cent is going back into the economy. Any move to reduce their standard of living or disposable income hurts them and the economy directly. It reduces the circulation of money in the economy, which everybody now agrees has been economically disastrous over the past 12 to 18 months.
If the legislation stipulated the Labour Court must take into consideration what the amendment proposes, the State would be committed to maintaining sustainable rates of remuneration. We know this is desirable but it is essential to ensure social justice and to lessen the negative impact on the economy. It is not an optional extra. The phrase, "the desirability of", seems weak and ambiguous and is susceptible to incorrect interpretation. If the Minister accepted the amendment, thereby enacting legislation that would commit the country to maintaining sustainable rates of remuneration for the low paid, it would send out a very good signal. If, as the Minister stated on Committee Stage, the wording does not in any way change the interpretation materially, he should accept the amendment. The proposed wording sounds a lot stronger and better.
Deputy Tóibín proposes to delete, in page 6, line 4, "the desirability of agreeing and maintaining" fair and sustainable rates of remuneration in the sector and substitute "the agreeing and maintaining of" fair and sustainable rates of remuneration in the sector. This issue relates to the principles and policies to which the Labour Court must have regard before registering an employment agreement. The same approach is proposed in amendment No. 18, from Deputy Tóibín, on the principles and policies that a JLC must have regard to when formulating proposals to submit to the Labour Court for employment regulation orders.
These amendments were considered at Committee Stage. Deputy O'Dea, in particular, questioned whether including the desirability of this, that or the other is bad drafting. I undertook to seek the view of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel on the issue. The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is firmly of the view that reference to the desirability should remain as it gives an indication that these are appropriate principles to which the court and the JLC should have regard and are desirable principles in themselves.
As I understand this, and I am no lawyer, we are seeking to embody the concept of weighing up different principles which, though desirable in themselves, can conflict. If one leaves out the word "desirability", one moves from one of a range of principles that must be considered to an absolute and one removes the discretion of the court in evaluating principles which at times are in conflict with other principles which we are seeking to pursue.
The other aspect of it is that it becomes open to challenge and fetters the freedom of the court. If one puts it in absolute terms, one can challenge that one did not maintain competitiveness in the sector - whatever that means. Therefore, the desirability of maintaining competitiveness shows that it is an issue that they weigh up while they are also weighing up, as the Deputy's amendment has set out, the desirability of maintaining adequate pay rates etc.
This is not some conspiracy to dilute this principle but it recognises that these are principles that must be weighed, one against another. They are not set in absolute terms. They are set as issues that are desirable that the court needs to bear in mind, but it is a balancing act that they are undertaking. As a result of both listening to the debate and my consultation with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, I am not in a position to accept the amendments.
I am disappointed with the Minister's view on this. The section states that the court shall have regard to the benefits of the consultation, the experience of registration, the potential impact on employment, the levels of employment and unemployment in the sectors in question. In referring to those sectors, it is more definite in their reference and in the ingredients of the decision making. I still stand by the view that the word "desirability" makes that effect of sustainable rates and remuneration, surely the purpose of this legislation, less definite. It is disappointing that my amendment is not being accepted.
The contrary is the case. By saying "the desirability", it is clearly saying this is something we are trying to achieve whereas if one leaves out "the desirability", it is merely a neutral issue. This is not diluting the importance. It is making clear that, in the hierarchy of issues, these are matters that are desirable that the court must seek to pursue. It also recognises that there is a balance to be struck between a range of issues that are desirable.
The purpose that the drafters are trying to achieve is not different from the one that Deputy Tóibín is pursuing and the argument is more about what is the proper way to draft. By putting in "the desirability", it is clearly saying to the Labour Court that this is something we seek to achieve, we seek to strive to achieve a number of matters, we recognise that at times they will be in conflict, and there is a balancing act to be conducted between the two of them and they are not absolutes.
We are not arguing about an issue of substance. The purpose of putting this legislation in place is to seek to maintain fair and reasonable living standards while seeking to ensure that the sectors are able to evolve to changing circumstances and be appropriate in dealing with the different challenges of employment and unemployment, competitiveness etc. that arise in each sector, which the Deputy Tóibín himself recognised when he pointed out the interests of small businesses and workers are all tied up in this.
While I am not accepting the amendment, it is not that we are poles apart. It is merely the phraseology, which I am advised by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is the appropriate way to enshrine this. We recognise these are purposes that they are seeking to pursue.
Amendment No. 3 in the name of Deputy Tóibín arises out of Committee Stage. Amendments Nos. 3 to 8, inclusive, 14, 15, 21 and 22 are related. Amendment No. 23 is also related and is an alternative to amendment No. 22. Amendments Nos. 3 to 8, inclusive, 14, 15, 21 and 22 and 23 will be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 3:
In page 6, lines 31 and 32, to delete all words from and including "and" in line 31 down to and including "so," in line 32.
Legislation is made not only for today and tomorrow but, potentially, for generations to come. We must develop and create that legislation to deal with eventualities that may not necessarily be in the objectives or the mind of the current Government.
There is a mechanism within the Bill which allows the Minister to set aside the decisions of the process. This is a weakening of the process. No doubt there is logic to the Minister having the power to set aside provisions if the legislation has not been followed and that is right and proper, but there are difficulties. There probably will come a day where a Minister will have either a political ideology or political imperative to set aside a properly negotiated framework for decent wages. We believe that undermines the legislation and undermines the work of the court on that issue.
I tabled a similar amendment on ERAs, amendment No. 22.
To add to what has been said, one of the reasons the JLC system was struck down by the High Court in John v. Catering JLC & Ors was that the committee was acting on its own without proper supervision and there was no set of principles to govern the decisions the committee had to make. We have set out the principles - that part is okay. I suggested, in a Bill I produced last year, that there should be general oversight by the Minister and by both Houses of the Oireachtas in that at least the ERA should be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and if nobody objected with 21 days, it should proceed to take effect.
What I had in mind here is general oversight by the Minister, not giving carte blanche to the Minister. There are many criteria about which the Labour Court must be satisfied before it recommends the adoption of either an REA or an ERA. That is set out. The Labour Court is the expert in this area. It is dealing with this on a constant basis. They know their business.
Nevertheless, the first part of the section provides that the Minister must be satisfied that the Labour Court has done all of these things and considered all of these matters properly, and that is fine. That gives a strict supervisory power to the Minister.
If someone objects to a proposed employment regulation order or registered employment agreement on the basis that the Labour Court acted wrongfully or failed to carry out a certain procedure or take proper account of certain matters, it can be brought to the attention of the Minister or Department that the Minister is entitled to send the proposal to the Labour Court. The Minister need only state that he or she concurs with the objection and will not accept the decision until the court acts properly in the matter. This provision is fine and adequately meets the requirements of the court case. However, the Bill also provides two further grounds on which the Minister may reject a proposal from the Labour Court for an ERO or REA. First, the Minister must be satisfied that subsections (1) to (5), inclusive, have been complied with. This means he or she is obliged to reject a proposal if he or she is not satisfied the court has done its business properly, both in terms of procedure and in respect of the matters it must take into account. The second ground on which the Minister may reject the application is where he or she considers that it is not appropriate to confirm the application. This provision gives carte blanche or total power to the Minister to decide at any stage that, notwithstanding that the Labour Court has acted properly and the workers in question need protection, it is not appropriate to accept the proposal.
The employment regulation orders must be regularly reviewed. The same criteria allowing the Minister to reject a proposal apply in respect of submissions to renew an ERO. This means the Minister may refuse to renew an order if he or she considers that proper procedures have not been followed or the Labour Court did not act in the manner prescribed. However, he or she may also decide to terminate the ERO forthwith on the basis that he or she considers it appropriate to do so. A fig leaf has been provided to the extent that the Minister must, when refusing a proposal on the basis that he or she considers it appropriate to do so, provide the Labour Court with his or her reasons for doing so. The text does not elaborate on the level of detail that must be provided in giving such reasons. This calls to mind the constant refrain one hears from the Director of Public Prosecutions when giving reasons for the failure to initiate prosecutions, namely, that the evidence available was not sufficient to secure a conviction. One of the provisions of the famous Stalinist constitution of 1934, which afforded citizens all sorts of rights on paper, was to require that military tribunals had to state reasons for executing people. The tribunals subsequently gave the same reason for every execution, namely, that the executed person was guilty. A secret trial lasting for all of half an hour would be held, after which the person would be taken outside and shot in the back of the head, and the reason given would be that he or she was guilty.
This legislation gives this and any future Minister carte blanche to terminate at will a registered employment agreement or, more seriously, an employment regulation order simply because he or she considers it appropriate to do so. This is not what was envisaged when the Duffy Walsh review group suggested changes to the position obtaining at that time because it was conscious of legal difficulties with it. As any fair reading of the High Court decision would show, this provision is not necessary. It is appropriate and probably necessary to grant a general supervisory power to the Minister to cure the constitutional defect in the legislation. However, for the Minister to include in the legislation an excuse to exercise absolute power to refuse to accept an ERO on a whim is not one but several steps too far. This provision is unacceptable and removes from workers at the lower end of the pay scale who are not unionised or properly represented the entire protection which has been in place since 1946. It will hang like the sword of Damocles over all future EROs and, for that matter, the entire employment regulation system, which can be terminated at will by a Minister taking a decision not to proceed with an order because he does not believe it is appropriate.
It is important to bear in mind that we are seeking to reconstruct legislation which has been struck down by the courts. As Deputy O'Dea acknowledged, the existing legislation was found to be unconstitutional on a number of grounds. One cannot find a fairer reading of the impact of the High Court judgment than the Attorney General's views on what is now needed to make the structure robust and seaworthy. The Attorney General has made clear that the role of the Minister may not be limited to rubber-stamping decisions or engaging in box-ticking exercises. To give a body other than the Oireachtas the power to make decisions which have legal effect - under existing legislation such decisions have criminal implications - one must introduce the type of supervision proposed in the Bill. This requires the Minister to engage in more than a box-ticking exercise and gives him or her a genuine role in overseeing the agreements. The legislation was drawn up after the most careful consideration of the implications of the court ruling that struck down the Act.
Deputy O'Dea, in his usual colourful way, likened the approach taken in the Bill to the reason cited for failures to initiate prosecutions, namely, a lack of sufficient evidence, or the habit of tyrannical regimes of citing the victim's guilt every time they executed someone. This is not the case in this Bill. I am establishing fair procedures to evaluate the circumstances in each workplace governed by an employment regulation order or a registered employment agreement. I am not establishing a regime for careful evaluation in order that I can pull the rug from under it once the work has been done. I am making provision for a ministerial and an Oireachtas element precisely because of the reasons cited by the court in striking down the previous legislation. The ruling drew particular attention to the absence of ministerial or Oireachtas supervision and it is this that the legislation seeks to remedy. This is not a case of the Minister being able to act on a whim in an unaccountable manner. I must notify to the Labour Court in writing the reasons for any decision. In addition, ministerial decisions may be subject to judicial review if people feel aggrieved by the procedure. They are also subject to Oireachtas oversight. I am not providing for a whimsical ministerial power but including a thought-out response to the collapse of the previous legislation when it was challenged in the courts.
I undertook to reflect on the provisions before Report Stage and my officials have consulted the Office of the Attorney General on the matter. They have confirmed that the ministerial order-making powers were included in the Bill to provide an additional constitutional safeguard in the legislation. The view of the Attorney General's office is that these additional safeguards would be lessened if the Minister did not have discretion over whether to make the order. While the Minister does not have the power to amend the terms of an order, he or she has the power, for specified reasons, to refuse to make the order and in such cases would have to notify the court of his or her decision and the reasons for such decision. In practice, however, this scenario is unlikely to arise often.
On Committee Stage, I drew the attention of Deputies to how the High Court, on constitutional grounds in the John Grace Fried Chicken Limited case, highlighted the absence of parliamentary and ministerial control over the fixing of statutory minimum wages by joint labour committees and the Labour Court. In the High Court, Mr. Justice Feeney recalled an earlier Supreme Court case in which the issue of delegated legislation had been addressed, the case of Burke v. the Minister for Labour. He cited the observations made in the Supreme Court in 1979 by Mr. Justice Henchy, who had identified the absoluteness of the delegation within the Act of 1946. In his High Court ruling last year, Mr. Justice Feeney contrasted the failure to amend the provisions of the Act of 1946, notwithstanding the concerns raised in the Supreme Court by Mr. Justice Henchy more than 30 years ago about the untrammelled powers given to JLCs, with the provisions that had been incorporated in the National Minimum Wage Act 2000. Under the Act of 2000, the Labour Court’s role is subject to guidance as to the principles or policies that must apply to the determination of a national minimum hourly rate of pay. The Act of 2000 also specifically empowered the Minister to accept, vary or reject the recommendation made by the Labour Court. In varying or rejecting any such recommendation by the Labour Court on the fixing of an hourly minimum wage, the Minister must make a statement to the Oireachtas setting out the reasons for the variation or rejection.
Consequently, what is going on here is not legislative adventurism but is in accord with the interpretation the courts have put on the proper powers and place of Ministers, as well as the approach that was adopted in the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000.
Legislative adventurism sounds like a new minority sport and hopefully it is not an extreme sport. One reason 200,000 people are long-term unemployed - that is, they have been unemployed for approximately the same length of time as the present Government's period in office - is upward-only rent reviews. I have prepared legislation in respect of upward-only rents that is waiting to go through the system. However, when I have asked for the Attorney General's opinion on the precise reason upward-only rent reviews cannot be acted on, I have been told it is traditional and has been the practice of the Government not to disclose full details of the advice of the Attorney General. As a result, I welcome wholeheartedly the detail to which the Minister gave expression today regarding the Attorney General in respect of this issue and I hope all the other Ministers take a leaf from his book.
Sinn Féin has a valid concern in this regard, which is that the good work being done by this House or indeed the entire system could be nullified in the future. The judicial review will have regard to this legislation, probably among others. Moreover, the Oireachtas overview about which the Minister speaks will be the overview of the political party of the Minister in question. Sinn Féin does not consider this to be a brake on the decision of a future Minister and this is the reason it has concerns in this regard.
First, I wish to make clear that I do not question in any way the bona fides of the particular Minister opposite. Nevertheless, if this is the advice of the Attorney General, I would seriously question that advice on foot of my own reading of the case. If one reverts to the High Court case, that court was presented with a scenario whereby these committees, which were set up to provide pay and conditions for particular workers, had a lot of powers. They could recommend rates of pay, that certain conditions which applied in Cork might not apply in Limerick or that different conditions might apply, etc. Consequently, the principal case put by counsel on behalf of the plaintiff in this case was that these powers were so extensive that they should at least be governed by a certain set of principles. The Constitution provides that if certain extra-parliamentary bodies are doing something that is tantamount to creating legislation and is almost equal to what Members are doing here as legislators, they must be governed by a certain set of principles. As a result, the High Court was obliged to decide whether this particular case fell into that category and it decided it did. It concluded that these committees were exercising quasi-legislative powers without supervision. First, the High Court noted the absence of a set of principles within which the committees had to operate. Second, the court considered whether what they were doing was supervised. It decided it was not, because there was no provision whereby their decisions could be referred to the Oireachtas. Moreover, there was no provision for the Minister to have any involvement, even in terms of signing off. Consequently, on foot of the judgment, it became the position that it would be necessary to introduce legislation to cure these defects.
This legislation certainly cures the first defect in that it provides a set of principles. It also cures the second defect in that it provides for a reference to the Oireachtas, if the Oireachtas wishes, to object to a particular proposal within a 21-day period. However, I argue that it more than corrects the third defect, which was a lack of ministerial involvement. I refer to the first provision in these sections in respect of both registered employment agreements, REAs, and employment regulation orders, EROs, and will cite the provision in respect of the latter as an example. It introduces firmly and clearly the principle of ministerial intervention and ministerial discretion. The section now provides that when the Labour Court engages in recommending and putting together an ERO, it must do certain things in respect of procedural matters and must take certain matters into account. Moreover, it does not simply pertain to one or two minor matters, as the details extend over four pages with definitions to follow. Moreover, some of the matters the Labour Court must take into account are subdivided into further matters. Consequently, the Labour Court, which has the expertise in this area, must do all that. For the first time, the Minister is being given the right to oversee this process and to ascertain whether the Labour Court has followed the proper procedure to the letter and has given proper consideration to everything it must consider, of which there is a multiplicity. Moreover, if anyone considers that the Labour Court has not done this, either procedurally or conceptually, then he or she can approach the Department and claim its actions were wrong. The Minister then has the right to refuse to grant the ERO, perhaps forever, or alternatively to send it back to the Labour Court with the instruction to deal with it properly before the Minister will consider it. This constitutes strong ministerial supervision, which is being introduced for the first time. There is no need for the section to go on to provide that apart from all that, the Minister also has a residual power, at his or her complete whim, to reject an ERO.
As my colleague Deputy Tóibín has noted, the people affected by this measure are those who are at the bottom of the wage scale and who need this system to protect them because for one reason or another, they are not properly represented. There has been legislation on the Statute Book since 1946 to provide them with some measure of protection. Unfortunately, as a result of a High Court decision, their protection is lessened in any event. No matter what the Minister attempts to do in this regard and with the best will in the world, the case itself and the constraints it places on the Minister lessen their protection. However, such people are entitled to a better provision than one under which not only is their protection lessened but, under a certain clause, it may be abandoned. I do not suggest the Minister, Deputy Bruton, would act in an adventurous manner. He will not get up some morning and decide to refuse to accept EROs henceforth. However, this is a power too far for the Minister. As I read its judgment, the High Court simply pointed out that as an example of the untrammelled power possessed by the recommending committees, there was no ministerial involvement. However, this legislation provides that not only will there be ministerial involvement but there will be total ministerial discretion to refuse the entire recommendation, no matter how justified it may be in reality. Regardless of whether the procedure was followed to the letter or whether the Labour Court did everything perfectly, the Minister has the residual power to simply say "No", and that is wrong.
In economics, one gets lots of opinions and with each economist, one gets another opinion. Perhaps it is not dissimilar in Deputy O'Dea's own profession, although I cannot speak of it with first-hand familiarity. The truth is that the court demolished the legislation in place for a number of reasons, including the lack of exercise of discretion by the Minister. It was not solely the issue of whether there were principles and the observation of procedures. The court clearly recognised that when monetary impositions were being made on people who were exposed to a penalty, there needed to be ministerial discretion to justify that this was in accordance with proper delegated functions, and there had to be the Oireachtas piece. Deputy Tóibín envisages the possibility that a Minister might strike down this in future. We could equally say an Oireachtas of the future might strike down orders. The court has said that without this level of parliamentary oversight, the system cannot be sustained. We are seeking to making sure we are not back here again with another set of legislative proposals designed by the Oireachtas and found by the courts to be failing in respect of proper procedure, proper fairness and proper parliamentary accountability.
Of course the courts do not prescribe the new architecture. We have to get legal advice on how to put in place architecture that will be robust from challenge. That is what has been done here. Deputy O'Dea states this exposes people who we should be protecting the whimsical power of the Minister. We are not trying to do that. We are trying to make a building that is robust and will not be blown down by the first legal challenge. This is one of the issues the courts have raised.
The Deputy was a member of the Government that put together the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, and I presume the best legal advice was obtained for that. That Government adopted the same procedure to make sure it had a robust Act and that there would not be successful challenges to the national minimum wage. That Act has proved to be robust and it has not been subject to challenge, whereas this other procedure has been subject to challenge and it has failed. We are applying the same principles as that Government to buttress the JLCs and the REAs in order to make them robust from attack. I am not trying to undermine people's rights in this Bill. I want to make sure we are not back here again because the courts have struck down the defences we have put in place for people who work in vulnerable areas of the economy.
While I recognise the importance of this debate, precedence shows this has been used before in legislation that has proved to be robust. I am applying proper protections as it will have to be notified to the court in writing as to why a Minister turned down this. It is not the exercise of whim without accountability. It will be subject to judicial review, like all those cases. The Oireachtas element of oversight is built into the procedure. This is a robust way to approach the problem. I ask the Deputies to accept that what I am trying to do is deliver legislation that will stand the test of time, and that I am not in any way trying to dilute its intention.
The minimum wage example is not a precedent and is not a proper argument in this context. We are dealing with something entirely different and we are, therefore, comparing apples and oranges here. I accept that having everybody at the Minister's whim is not what he wants to do. However, my argument is that this is effectively what the Bill does. The Minister states there will be accountability and that people can apply for judicial review and so on. That is true, but for what would people seek a review? Judicial review means that when a body like An Bord Pleanála makes a decision, it cannot be appealed to the courts but a judicial review can be sought. The court then has to decide whether any properly constituted board acting in a fairly reasonable manner could possibly have come to this conclusion. It is not a re-hearing. It simply decides whether the board was acting in a reasonable manner.
In this case, the Labour Court might be right and have done everything by the book, but as the Minister said "No", we cannot overrule the Minister because the legislation simply states that he can say "No" if he considers it appropriate. The Minister rightly stated there are often two different viewpoints. He has his view and I have mine, and nothing I have heard from the Minister causes me to change my view.
I move amendment No. 4:
In page 6, lines 37 to 39, to delete all words from and including "or" in line 37 down to and including "agreement," in line 39.
I move amendment No. 5:
In page 9, lines 10 and 11, to delete all words from and including "and" in line 10 down to and including "so," in line 11.
I move amendment No. 6:
In page 9, lines 16 to 18, to delete all words from and including "or" where it firstly occurs in line 16 down to and including "order," in line 18.
I move amendment No. 7:
In page 10, lines 27 to 29, to delete all words from and including "and" in line 27 down to and including "so," in line 29.
I move amendment No. 8:
In page 10, lines 35 to 37, to delete all words from and including "or" where it firstly occurs in line 35 down to and including "cancellation," in line 37.
Amendments Nos. 9, 24, 25 and 26 are related and may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 9:
In page 11, lines 14 to 16, to delete all words from and including "if" in line 14 down to and including "circumstances," in line 16.
This is about representation and how an aggrieved person brings his or her case. As things stood under the Industrial Relations Act 1946, if a worker subject to an REA was aggrieved, he or she could simply complain to NERA. The worker had the automatic right to complain and NERA had the automatic right to take a criminal prosecution against the employer. Naturally it was not perfect, because there would never be enough inspectors to cover every case. Nevertheless, the threat was a fantastic deterrent and ensured that many people who would have been blackguarded were not.
This aspect of the 1946 legislation was discussed in the High Court in the fried chicken case. The High Court looked at the powers of this unelected and unaccountable body.