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Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media debate -
Wednesday, 29 Jun 2022

Working Conditions and Skills Shortages in Tourism and Hospitality Sector: Discussion (Resumed)

This session will involve a discussion of working conditions and skills shortages in Ireland's tourism and hospitality sector, which, sadly, we hear a lot about these days. I welcome: Dr. Deirdre Curran, a lecturer with National University of Ireland, NUI, Galway; Mr. Denis Hynes, sector organiser hospitality, SIPTU; Ms Fiona Dunne, national co-ordinator of One Movement, and Mr. Clement Shevlin, sector organiser with SIPTU, from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU; and Mr. Robert Kelly, regional officer, Ms Rhona McCord, strategic research and communications co-ordinator, and Ms Karen Doyle, hospitality branch secretary, who joins our meeting via Microsoft Teams, from Unite the Union.

As I have stated previously, it is great to have people back in the room. We have had two years of doing things virtually on Teams and everything else but there is nothing like an in-person opportunity to talk about and discuss these things. It is great to have the witnesses here. They are all very welcome. I hope I got all the names right. We have a long witness list today.

I have a little housekeeping to go through so I hope people will bear with me. Please note that to limit the risk of spreading Covid-19 the Houses of the Oireachtas encourage all members, visitors and witnesses to continue to wear masks in crowded settings on the campus. The format of the meeting is such that I will invite opening statements of no more than three minutes from our witnesses, which will be followed by questions from members of the committee. As witnesses are probably aware, the committee will publish their opening statements on its website following today's meeting.

Before I invite witnesses to deliver their opening statements, I will explain some of the limitations relating to parliamentary privilege and the practice of the House as regards references they make to other persons in their evidence. The evidence of witnesses physically present or who give evidence from within the parliamentary precincts is protected, pursuant to both the Constitution and statute, by absolute privilege. However, witnesses who are giving evidence remotely from outside the parliamentary precincts may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings. Witnesses are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable, or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of that person or entity. Therefore, if they make potentially defamatory remarks, they will be directed to discontinue.

Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the House, or an official, by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

I propose that we proceed with the opening statements in the following order. I will ask Dr. Curran to take the floor first. She will be followed by Mr. Kelly, Ms Dunne and Mr. Hynes. I invite Dr. Curran to make her opening statement.

Dr. Deirdre Curran

I thank the Chairperson. I am delighted to be here. For the record, I am here in my capacity as an independent academic researcher reporting on research I have done that facilitates the voice of hospitality workers. I am not affiliated to, or funded by, any hospitality employer, body or trade union. I am simply here to report on the lived experience of hospitality workers through their own testimonies. My motives are, first, to give voice to hospitality workers and, second, to provoke a conversation that will lead to positive change. If there is one message I would leave with the committee in its search for answers regarding labour shortages, it is to find a way to give silenced hospitality workers a voice because they have a unique and critical perspective on what is wrong and how to make it right.

I will outline a couple of statistics. Some 68% of hospitality workers are paid less than the current living wage, 33% of them disagreed that the hours they work are acceptable, 62% do not get a Sunday premium, and 33% do not receive bank holiday pay. Those statistics are from Fáilte Ireland's own research. We are at a tipping point, if members will pardon the pun. We have had problems with hospitality conditions for years. Now that there is a labour shortage we have the attention of hospitality employers. I have listened very carefully to the contribution of hospitality employers and employers from the vintners' sector. While I agree with much of what they say, some of it is short-term, fracture-filling quick fixes. There are some things I have concerns about, such as permits to bring in non-EU workers or labour, or proposals to increase the tourism marketing fund.

While these may address short-term labour shortages, they will only contribute to the problem in the long term.

One of the research projects I am writing up is an in-depth exploration of why some hospitality workers chose to remain in the sector during the pandemic and why others chose to leave. Of the people with whom I spoke, approximately two thirds chose to stay while one third chose to leave. Of the ones who stayed, one third moved to different employers. The research consisted of an online survey, audio files and in-depth interviews. One of the questions asked was if the person was in front of a Government task force, what would he or she state were the challenges from his or her perspective. Here are a few of the challenges: being overworked and overwhelmed; working hours versus actual hours worked; post-pandemic insecurity of employment; having to compensate for untrained new recruits; bad behaviour from customers; and inflation. The participants were also asked for recommendations. The list of recommendations in my submission is really the answer to labour shortages. This is from actual hospitality workers. The recommendations include raising awareness and addressing bullying; giving staff sufficient rest; giving workers a voice; allowing wage progression; training managers; giving people additional benefits; and fair treatment and equality . The list goes on and is published in my brief. There are so many things that need to change. Hospitality workers know what these things are and how to change them but nobody is listening. Until we address those issues, we will not find a long-term solution to the labour shortage. Of the people with whom I spoke, only one had a job that met the features of decent work as per the International Labour Organization and this person does not work in Ireland. Most people will tell you that things have got worse post pandemic. If people left, it was a decision of the head rather than the heart.

Another piece of research I am doing is a case study of good practice. This involves a hotel that is claiming to offer a different and better employee proposition. The emerging findings look really good. If they are as good as they say they are, it will be an example of how you can treat people with dignity and respect, give them good working conditions and still make a very good profit. A colleague of mine, Maureen Maloney, and final-year students at NUI Galway produced a project on the lived experience of hospitality and retail workers. Six in ten agree with the statement "My work schedule is changed at short notice" while three in ten disagree with the statement "I receive adequate time for breaks at work". Six in ten got no sick pay if they were off work sick and three in ten said they had experienced or observed workplace abuse.

In 2019, I carried out an in-depth study of the working conditions of hospitality workers. The results were pretty depressing. This was pre pandemic. If anything, things have got worse since then. The survey I designed in 2019 has since been replicated all over the world in ten different countries so there will be a database of working conditions from all over the world on which we can all draw.

To summarise, my recommendations arising from empirical research including acting on the excellent recommendations of workers contributing to research, having an overarching national body monitoring and enforcing standards and providing CERT-type training and a Q mark of good practice, promoting ethical leadership, a targeted Workplace Relations Commission, WRC, inspection campaign and investing in training over marketing. Going into secondary schools and marketing hospitality as a great place to work is clearly not true and the money should be invested in making it a great place to work. One of the last two recommendations involves having proper apprenticeships. I am very much in favour of apprenticeships but they must include education on employment rights, how to protect yourself if something bad happens and resilience.

My final recommendation involves creating a platform for worker voice. I urge members to use their influence to address the problems in hospitality that were here long before the pandemic in terms of working conditions, employee voice and low pay. If we clean up the industry, and people who work there want to stay there, we can make it a place where they can stay and feel valued.

I thank Dr. Curran for a very passionate presentation. I invite on Mr. Kelly to make his opening statement.

Mr. Rob Kelly

It is great to be here and to add to what Dr. Curran said. It is great to have such an independent voice here speaking on behalf of the sector and through lived experience. You cannot argue with or beat that narrative, so I thank Dr. Curran. I thank the committee for inviting us here today to discuss the issues around recruitment in the hospitality sector.

As a trade union that organises workers in the hospitality and tourism sector, Unite has been concerned for a number of years about the low standards facing workers in the sector. We carried out a survey in 2020, the findings of which correlate with two other surveys, one by Dr. Curran and another by Fáilte Ireland, that revealed unacceptable levels of low pay, poor working conditions and a general lack respect in the sector for hospitality workers. This disrespect has, unfortunately, been highlighted by ill-informed commentary by employers' representatives who rather than address the low pay in the sector attempt to deflect to a disingenuous claim about social welfare rates, in respect of which Ireland is lowest in its EU peer group. In Unite's survey, 77.2% of respondents said that low pay was the biggest problem in the sector. In the recent research by Fáilte Ireland, 62% of respondents said better basic pay would make the sector more attractive to them.

Our concerns about the standards in the sector were also raised during our union’s campaign to stop tip theft. The fact that workers need to rely on tips from customers in the first place is indicative of wages not being sufficient for people to live on. The fact that some employers would confiscate those tips speaks to the levels of exploitation and disrespect that some workers face in the sector.

Unite believes that the crisis in recruitment in the sector has been exaggerated in some quarters in order to undermine conditions even further for workers and to resist wages increases in the face of rising inflation. In fact, the Nevin Economic Research Institute has challenged these claims by simply monitoring job websites where hundreds of positions were being filled in under two weeks. Notwithstanding this, we believe that low wages and precarious working conditions had an adverse effect on recruitment and retention in the sector for a number of years before the pandemic.

The gap between wages and living costs has been rising for decades. It is unrealistic and unsustainable for people to physically exist while working in low-paid sectors. In the first quarter of 2022, average rent in Ireland was at €1,567 per month. On the minimum wages that are on offer in the hospitality sector, someone would need to work 37.3 hours each week just to cover rent. We should not take for granted the living arrangements of workers. It is not the case that all workers have other supports, including family, or are sharing living costs with others. Full-time pay should be adequate for people to live independently. Hourly rates need to reflect the living wage. If it do not then it is in fact a non-living wage.

Low pay rates also have a negative impact on recruitment from other EU countries. Instead of increasing wages, employer groups are lobbying for work permits from outside the EU in order to pay minimum wages to economic migrants. This is a race to the bottom that has the effect of shrinking the local economy. Ireland has one of the cheapest labour costs in the EU. Average hourly costs, including wages and employers' contributions, are lower in Ireland than any of our EU peer group. While we have seen considerable State intervention in the sector over the years with tax reliefs, Government supports and the pandemic unemployment payment, PUP, during Covid, we have not seen that trickle down to workers' pay.

While low pay is a major factor in recruitment and retention, we highlight the following as other contributing factors. First, perceptions about the sector and who works in the sector are often misleading. It is viewed by many employers and media commentators as low-skilled, temporary and seasonal and a job for students or younger people. This is often used as an excuse for low wages and short-term hours and contracts. The majority of workers in the sector are full time. Ireland has high levels of educational achievement. This raises job expectations that often cannot be matched in the sector. Unite believes that all workers are skilled and that there are no unskilled workers.

Second, structural changes in the sector as a result of automation, particularly at the service end will erase and are already erasing job roles such as hotel receptionists. This can make the sector unattractive to anyone looking for a long-term career path.

Third, the participation of women in the economy is vital. Barriers must be removed in order that they can access the labour market on an equal footing. The first step should be to address the gender pay gap and make it a thing of the past. Access to affordable childcare and travel will also have a positive impact on the availability of people to participate in the labour market.

The fundamental problem in the sector is low pay. Increasing wages, including premium and Sunday rates, will have a positive effect on recruitment as well as the local economy. Conditions for workers in the sector need to be improved to ensure rights across the board to adequate breaks and rest periods, sick pay, holiday pay and full compliance with all other statutory rights for workers.

In addition to the above, what we believe will fundamentally change the position for workers in the sector is the establishment of full statutory collective bargaining rights and access rights for trade unions. The absence of collective bargaining and trade union access has an adverse effect on all workers, especially those in precarious and low-paid employment.

I thank Mr. Kelly. I am sure there will be many questions from my colleagues when we get to that point.

Ms Fiona Dunne

I reiterate some of the comments made by our colleagues, which we support. On behalf of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the 800,000 workers we represent across the island of Ireland, I thank the Chair and the committee for the opportunity to speak to this topic. My remarks today are supplemented by our briefing document submitted to the committee.

Data for the tourism and hospitality sector indicates it is characterised by low wages, increased part-time work and precariousness, and along with qualitative research and Workplace Relations Commission reports, we can add bad employment practices, breaches of employment law, exploitation and mistreatment to that list. These facts alone make this sector a challenge for anyone considering applying to work within it, and if we add limited career pathways and progression, to us the reasons for the difficulties facing employers are self-evident.

Current labour force statistics indicate a growth in employment and a shift towards jobs with on-average higher wages but a recent Nevin Economic Research Institute, NERI, paper suggests shortages in this sector were not as previously indicated at 40,000, with employment during summer 2021 merely 1% below 2019 figures and the first quarter of 2022 figures indicating a reduction of just 3% during a time when the sector did not fully reopen until after the third week.

Improving the realities of working in the sector should be prioritised over perception abroad, where decent conditions, well-paid workers and good career prospects will result in better outcomes for workers and for business. Instead, the sector seems fixated on low productivity, low value and low wages, resulting in it being the lowest paid out of 13 sectors with over half of the workers classed as low-paid, with the entire sector only accounting for 1.8% of gross value added to the Irish economy and one in 12 employees. That is according to a NERI blog from last September.

In the past two years the sector has taken significant State support in taxpayers' money for business grants and employee subsidies and it continues to enjoy reduced VAT rates, the benefits of which are enjoyed by neither workers nor consumers. There is acknowledgement of "record levels of funding for the tourism sector" by the Government in 2022 but there seems to be a lack of connection between the working environment and difficulties in recruitment and retention. It is therefore illogical to allow State money to continue to subsidise and bolster businesses that ignore State employment legislation by evidence of breaches, disengage from the State's JLC system and effectively veto its operation, and employ workers on low wages and precarious contracts, thus forcing workers to rely on State subsidies in the form of HAP and other social welfare benefits rather than on earnings.

Congress believes employers who receive State subsidies and public moneys should, at a minimum, adhere to all employment legislation, engage in State collective bargaining structures and provide decent and sustainable employment terms and conditions. At a recent hearing of this committee, Congress noted the industry comment made to "convince school leavers that a viable career path exists in the pub sector" and that "students will go on to hold senior well-paid positions within the trade". We suggest that rather than trying to convince students of a viable career, the sector should provide clear data as evidence that bears out that the sector highly values employees through improved wages and terms and conditions and opportunities are created to attain lengthy well-paid careers in the industry.

This committee should therefore act on the following key recommendations to this end. It should seek to strengthen the joint labour committee, JLC, system. There is a clear urgency to rectify the legislation governing the JLC system, which has enabled employers to effectively veto the functioning of these committees, thus preventing engagement, negotiation and progress. The committee should support calls to amend this legislation, which will afford all stakeholders the opportunity to negotiate best employment practice, prohibit competition on wages and thus prevent a race to the bottom in terms of employment conditions and employee welfare. Past experience of the JLC system proves that it worked for employers, employees and the reputation and outcomes for the sector. As a labour-intensive sector, the solution to these problems is not to seek new markets for low-paid employees but quite simply to improve the conditions for those providing the services, as all the evidence suggests.

We also recommend expanding the provision of apprenticeships. The range of regulated apprenticeships should be expanded to provide ongoing development, decent levels of pay and clear career progression, which may help to eradicate the sector's current reputation as one of low wages and precariousness. The sector should guarantee delivery of decent working conditions and pay commensurate with such qualifications, including the most recent addition, the bar manager degree apprenticeship.

We also recommend the improvement of legislative oversight. The committee should explore all issues of non-compliance with employment legislation in the sector and ensure the hospitality sector is prioritised for inspection, the commitments already made regarding increasing the number of labour inspectors in the Towards 2016 national agreement are delivered and that the WRC increases the number and expands the remit of unannounced labour inspections. That would no doubt inform further recommendations for action.

We also recommend improving wages in the sector. It is particularly important for Ireland to increase wage floors, as the better option of negotiating wages across sectors is neither available through widespread collective bargaining nor through co-ordinated sectoral bargaining systems such as JLCs. Given the cost-of-living crisis, the committee should press for a shorter implementation of the living wage, representing 66% of the median wage, which was the calculation for the national minimum wage back in 2000. As noted in the briefing document, a significant increase in the minimum wage would have the effect of reducing employer costs, such as recruitment, retention and lost productivity costs, thereby also reducing pressure on prices. Such increases aligned with consumer spending will help to protect enterprises through increased productivity.

Economic commentators have reiterated that increased wages will not fuel inflation further and therefore increasing wages will alleviate the danger of workers slipping further into poverty, help to address gender inequality and reduce the gender pay gap. Inflation has skyrocketed, with the result that the cost of living has soared for all workers, but it has produced particular difficulties for those workers on low and minimum wages, making it much more difficult for them to make ends meet.

We also recommend that the committee supports the inclusion of all social partners in the implementation of the EU directive on minimum wages and collective bargaining because, as we know, wider collective bargaining coverage has a positive impact on wages and terms and conditions and produces excellent labour market outcomes.

Our final recommendation relates to inclusion of stakeholder engagement. Congress and affiliates representing workers across the sector should be included as members in all sectoral stakeholder forums, such as the hospitality and tourism forum, Fáilte Ireland’s careers oversight group and any other such forums which may be established.

Mr. Denis Hynes

I thank the Cathaoirleach and members of the committee for the invitation, which we appreciate. I will be reasonably brief. In SIPTU we continue to represent workers in the hospitality sector. Since the attack on the JLC for hospitality workers in the case of John Grace Fried Chicken Limited and Others v. Catering JLC in 2011, we have continuously sought the reintroduction of the JLC to protect the workers in the industry. In 2012, under the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, provision was made to reinstate the JLC for hospitality but, unfortunately, this has not progressed.

I will echo some of the statistics already shared. Currently, 68% of those working in hospitality are paid under €12 per hour, with 16% paid less than €10 per hour. Furthermore, staff have complained about not getting proper breaks and being on call when not required to work. There are 62% of workers who do not receive a Sunday premium and 33% do not get any additional payments or additional holidays when working on a public holiday. These statistics are supported by Bord Fáilte's own report from March this year.

The industry has bottomed out, with thousands of workers leaving the hospitality sector to take up employment elsewhere. The issue is not only about recruitment; it is also about the retention of employees currently in employment. What is the answer? The employer bodies would have us believe that the solution, echoed every day now, is to provide thousands of additional visas for migrant workers. They are also looking to increase beyond the current 20 hours the hours of work that foreign students coming to our country are allowed to work.

In October 2020, the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland conducted a survey by interviewing over 1,000 undocumented migrants in Ireland regarding employment rights. The survey found that more than 25% of migrants who have lived here for five years or more were still not in receipt of the minimum wage. Earlier this year Ireland was encouraged to join the EU employers sanction directive, which stops employers recruiting and ill-treating migrant workers, according to a report published on 11 January 2022. Whether we want to accept it or not, we have a culture in Ireland which is recognised for certain levels of exploitation. Therefore, we must ensure all workers are protected in their employment. We totally agree that not every employer is a bad employer but ,unfortunately, experience to date indicates some will take advantage. We are out of sync with our EU counterparts in hospitality on pay and conditions, as I indicated previously.

Never before was an employment regulation order and a JLC needed more in hospitality.

This would bring about the minimum pay and conditions of employment that all workers should work under. Since the collapse of the JLC, the industry has been struggling to retain and engage new employees. The answer is neither bringing in thousands of vulnerable workers into the culture of exploitation we have here in Ireland nor expecting foreign students to work beyond 20 hours per week. The only solution is to put in place a floor on pay and conditions and make the hospitality sector attractive again for new entrants and those who are presently in employment.

I thank Mr. Hynes for that bit of straight-talking towards the end. I thank Dr. Curran, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Hynes for their presentations. I will turn to my colleagues, who have five minutes each for questions and answers. I will begin with Deputy Mythen.

I thank all our guests for coming in.

It is disturbing to hear of the surveys. We know what is going on but when you see it in front of you, it is a different matter. I am a member of Unite and have been for the past 36 years. I am proud of the union and happy to be associated with it. We all know it. The statistics are there. Some 68% of staff in this industry are paid less than the minimum wage. We are aware of the conditions. The pandemic highlighted a lot of stuff. For years, it was brushed under the carpet. It is coming out now. People have left the industry in their droves and have discovered there is more money out there to be earned. I had an example of a sous chef. The main chef left and he was put in charge. He was working until 4 a.m. His relationship with his partner was almost gone; he could not see her. He had to order all the stuff in. It was accepted that he did all that without any extra pay. We are aware of the conditions there.

One of my party's answers - we would be definitely in favour of it - is collective bargaining. That is the main issue here in the country. We have had great trade union work along the whole way, from James Connolly and others. The unions are still fighting the same fight which should not have to happen. We should recognise that people have a right to association. They have a right to join a union. They have a right to be represented. That does not really happen in the hospitality sector. What is the most important recommendation our guests would propose to the Government in terms of legislation regarding workers' rights in this sector and what needs to be done to improve enforcement of workers' rights legislation with this industry? Obviously, the JLC is a major issue, as is the veto that the employers have at present, which, as far as I am concerned, is totally wrong because you should be able to sit down and work out your conditions. People have to live. A living wage would benefit the country immensely. I do not know why people do not see that. Maybe those two questions would make a start. What is the most important recommendation they would propose to the Government in terms of legislation regarding workers' rights in this sector? What needs to be done to improve enforcement of workers' rights legislation with this industry?

There are two specific questions. Ms McCord is offering.

Ms Rhona McCord

I think the Deputy answered the question himself when he spoke about collective bargaining rights. That is absolutely key. It is key for trade unions to have a right to access to speak to workers and to recruit workers in the sector. It is a historical fact that trade unions have played a key role in combating inequality in our society and across the world. That is a fact. One of the things blocking us in Ireland - President Higgins referred to this not so long ago - is that we do not have decent trade union legislation on a par with that of our European neighbours. We lag far behind. The Industrial Relations Act 1990 has played a key role in blocking trade unions from access to workplaces and to collective bargaining. They are the most important things from our perspective in terms of what we are talking about here today. It is important to note, as some have referred to, that there are lobby groups looking to recruit from outside the EU to basically exploit migrant workers and lower the expectations in the sector for workers. We need to note and be really aware of the fact that those workers will have to pay the same rents that Mr. Kelly referred to earlier and live in the same conditions that we live in on low pay. It is not a sustainable answer. In fact, it is the opposite. It is more than a race to the bottom. It is a race to social catastrophe. That collective bargaining piece is the key issue for us.

Dr. Deirdre Curran

For me, breach of employment rights is one thing; abuse is a whole other level. My bigger concern would be ill-treatment, the levels of bullying and harassment, and the lack of employee voice. On the employment rights side, many hospitality workers do not know what their rights are. We need an information campaign. This is why I said that with apprenticeships we need to teach workers and prospective workers what their rights are. If employment rights are breached, hospitality workers do not go looking for help. They do not know that the WRC exists. If they did, they would be too intimidated to go there. I am all for collective bargaining but most hospitality workers are not members of a trade union. In the absence of collective bargaining, we need to find another way for workers to have a voice. Nobody is listening to them and they have so many positive things to say that would be of benefit to the industry, to customers and to everybody, but nobody is listening. For me, the big issue is voice. We need to find a way to tap in to the voice of hospitality workers who care about the industry, who want to stay and who are passionate about it. When I ask workers what they like most about working in hospitality, the number one answer is "people." These are "people" people. They love their colleagues. They love working with customers. The number two answer is the satisfaction of delivering good service and the number three answer is the buzz and the variety of the work they do. They want to stay. The industry needs to make it attractive for them to stay and to address the issues that have been there for decades.

Not to cut across Deputy Mythen, can I tease that out?

Dr. Curran said a significant amount of those workers are not members of unions. How do we give them that voice then?

Dr. Deirdre Curran

That is the issue. There are industry task forces but the worker voice is not being heard on those task forces. Who knows better how to improve an industry than the workers on the ground? They are fantastic. Most of the people I talk to are long-serving hospitality workers. They have experience. They have wisdom that they are dying to share but nobody is asking them. In the 2019 project, there were 260 respondents, the vast majority of whom were not members of a trade union. When I asked if they would consider joining a union, many of them did not know there was such a thing as a union for hospitality workers or they did not know anything about unions. There is work to be done there in educating people on where they can go for help.

I thank Dr. Curran.

Mr. Denis Hynes

I will be brief. When we had the JLC in hospitality, there was an onus on the employer to put up in the canteen what one's legal entitlements were, what was agreed under the JLC, and what was agreed with the unions and the employers' bodies through government and the court. It was a way in which employees could see the minimum terms and conditions in their employment, but it has not appeared on a canteen wall since 2011. As has been pointed out, it has gone beyond the race to the bottom.

Through SIPTU - it has been echoed here strongly with all the unions - and Congress, one of the strongest ways we can make sure that workers are protected, including migrant workers who will come into the country, whether through visas or any other way, is by putting in place the mechanism and framework of a JLC and starting those talks now. It is a decade since it was vetoed. The timing could never be more right. In doing this, it will not only protect workers in the industry; it will also protect the employment.

I would like to make another point that Mr. Shevlin and I were talking about outside before we came in. When we in SIPTU go in to negotiate a pay increase, one of the things that an employer will say to us is that if he or she gives us 4% or 5%, he or she is putting himself or herself at a disadvantage to the employer down the road. This will put a floor in place to protect all employments. That is my point.

Ms Fiona Dunne

I reiterate what everybody has been saying, namely, that collective bargaining is hugely important. The JLC is in place but it is being ignored by employers. The forum is already there and we just need to get on with it. The quickest action the committee can take is probably to push for that, as well as collective bargaining and all the other things we do not have in terms of trade union access, recognition and ensuring people are not intimidated if they want to join a union. We have given a lot of recommendations, a couple of which would be quite sweeping across the sector and could be done quickly.

I thank the witnesses for their attendance. It always strikes me when we talk about hospitality workers that there is a public perception they are all young, mostly students and working part-time. There is an idea they are only working in the industry to supplement some other lifestyle, such as a student who needs to make extra money. It is obvious, however, that this is not the case. I worked in the hospitality sector for a long time and loved it, despite all the issues the witnesses have outlined today. I had both great employers and brutal employers. However, the public perception to which I referred certainly remains. One hears it in the discussions on radio shows, together with a somewhat dismissive attitude that these are only temporary, seasonal workers who will move on quickly. In fact, we are talking about people's livelihoods. There are people who go to college to study to work in the sector and they are not just doing it on a part-time, ad hoc basis. This is their career and livelihood.

Is that mistaken perception potentially causing some of the issues in terms of getting buy-in politically? Is there a need to shift perceptions about the people who work in the sector? I worked with students for a long time and there is a tendency towards a dismissive attitude to the effect that the work is not permanent and they will get out of the industry eventually. Will the witnesses comment on whether this type of perception is an issue?

I have a lot of questions but will confine myself to one more. If there is time, I will come in again. Legislation will be debated in the Seanad this evening that deals with the treatment of tips. I know Mr. Shevlin is doing a lot of work on the campaign on tipping in Galway. Does he have any thoughts on the Bill, whether good, bad or otherwise, and what we should be doing in this regard? It is Government legislation but it is not being opposed by anybody in the Opposition. I would like to hear his thoughts on it.

Ms Fiona Dunne

In terms of perceptions of the sector, we hear a lot that employment in it is only transient, involves only students and so on. Way back, 20-odd years ago, when we had proper certification and apprenticeship schemes, there was proper career progression and a career path. Mr. Hynes and Mr. Kelly might say more about this. The question is which issue came first. Did the destruction of the sector come first in that students were encouraged to join the industry and thereby make it a transient sector? That question has to be asked. There still are a lot of people in the sector who rely on it for their wages. We talked about the figures for the people paying rent and all the rest of it. We know the real situation.

Changing the perception of the sector probably is something we need to do. However, it should not be a case of dismissing it on the basis that it only involves students, even if that were the case. Anyone undertaking these jobs should be paid correctly, no matter who they are. Students and others who might only stay for a year or two should still get proper pay and conditions and be treated correctly. We have to let the sector become what it was in the past, that is, an industry in which people can have a career with decent progression and can imagine themselves staying and being available to avail of reskilling and upskilling for 20 or 30 years. However, that is not what the employers want. They want low wages and low value in terms of what they have to pay out and worker conditions. It is important we stick to trying to improve the conditions and changing the perception such that, regardless of who is in the sector, they are all doing a job, no matter what that job is, they should be properly paid for it and there should be opportunities for people to stay in the sector.

I will hand over to Mr. Shevlin to respond to the question on tipping as he has more information on that.

Mr. Clement Shevlin

I was talking recently to somebody who works in hospitality. I asked him why he remains in sector, where all the workers have gone and whether 40,000 of them really have just left all of a sudden. He is a comical sort of fellow and he told me they are like freed slaves. The Covid crisis took the chains off them because, before that, they did not realise what other kinds of jobs are out there and that they could receive better treatment from other employers. They have taken up those other jobs and they are not going back to hospitality.

Another thing this man mentioned, as also referred to by Dr. Curran, Mr. Kelly and Ms Dunne, is the situation regarding the JLC. It is about giving workers a voice. Why do they not have a voice and why will they not talk to a union? The simple reason is the fear they have that their shifts and hours will be changed and that they could experience harassment. There are all sorts of measures an employer can take, as some of them do every day in this country, to discourage employees from joining a union. To address that, the first thing the hospitality sector should be doing is allowing access for workers to Unite, SIPTU and all the unions that are invested in this issue. That is the first thing that should be done, even without a JLC. The employers should say they have a problem getting staff. They are going around all these groups and forums on how to get tourists into the country and encourage people to take staycations and all the rest, but they are not looking at the elephant in the room, which is that they do not have the staff to cook a dinner for customers or serve them a beer. They are still thinking about putting a service charge on a pint of beer. That is the level of thinking that is going on and it has to stop.

Campaigns on tipping by ONE Galway and Unite have given workers wings and have been followed up by political support such as the Bill brought forward by Senator Gavan. That kind of support shows people in the sector that legislation produced by the Oireachtas can change their lives within the workplace. It also shows employers there is an awakening within the hospitality sector and they will finally have to draw the curtains on the current situation and recognise they can no longer have it their own way because that is killing the industry. Every day in the Dáil Chamber, there are divisive opinions on different issues but Members have to come to some agreement. We all know how they do it. They sit in the Chamber and argue all day before coming up with a solution that is better for everyone in the country. That is all we are asking in respect of the hospitality sector. People cannot leave a blank in communications and then, all of a sudden, expect a solution. Solutions only come from engagement across the table.

The process of legislating for the treatment of tips began with the Bill that was introduced by Senator Gavan in 2019. That Bill was shot down. The Tánaiste has now brought in the new Bill, which is giving all the protections for tips, including electronic tips, that were sought. It means that if my daughter starts working in a restaurant once the Bill goes through, she will benefit from the tipping policy straight away. She will get a letter setting out the percentage of the tips to which she is entitled. If she does not get it, she has a pathway to the WRC to address it. That has never before been the case. The proposal to ring-fence service charges would mean, in a place like Galway city, where it is all tips and there is no service charge, and we did the research that shows this, there could be a switch all of a sudden to a service charge and the tips the workers rely on, which could be an extra €60, €70 or €80 a week, would now fall under a service charge. Technically, under the legislation, those moneys would have been ring-fenced for the employer to decide what to do with them.

We must move on to ensure all members get a chance to speak. Mr. Shevlin will have other opportunities to come back on that point. Deputy Munster, who is joining us via Microsoft Teams, is waiting patiently to speak.

I welcome Dr. Curran and our other guests. As they are aware, we have been engaging for some time on this issue. We invited the union representatives back because we are currently writing, and will be publishing, our report on working conditions in the industry. We want to get as much information as we can from the witnesses.

If the Chairman is agreeable, I will ask all my questions and then get the answers from our guests. My first question is to Mr. Hynes of SIPTU. Will he talk us through what exactly is required to re-establish the JLC for hospitality workers? He said people are in place and have not budged for a decade. He also said the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act makes provision for reinstatement. Is the issue solely the veto employers have? If the issue is intransigence from employers, is the legislation not robust enough and are changes needed to remove that veto, or is the problem a weakness in terms of the unionisation of the sector?

I would like a response from the representatives of the three unions and from Dr. Curran to my next question. As it stands, workers have a right to join a union but the employer does not have to recognise that union. That amounts to lightweight legislative protection.

This does nothing to enhance a worker's rights. Someone said that workers in the sector will not talk to a union. Perhaps workers will not talk to the union because their employer does not have to recognise that union. If the legislation is that lightweight, would the witnesses be in favour of changes that would strengthen workers' rights in that legislation but putting an onus on employers to recognise unions?

The other question is for Dr. Curran. Her research shows that workers in hospitality feel that the working conditions in tourism and hospitality have grown poorer since emerging from the pandemic. Will Dr. Curran expand on that? All we hear about is the staff shortage. Whether or not in reality that is the truth, we are not sure. If it was true or a percentage of it was down to staff shortages, it would be assumed that would mean employers would offer better pay and conditions given the increase in demand for workers. In Dr. Curran's experience, is that not the case? Will she comment briefly on the effect inflation is having on workers in the industry and what other research needs to be carried out in the area? If there was funding available, what would she like to see?

Ms Dunne mentioned the lower VAT rate enjoyed by the industry. Is it her opinion that the sector should not get the 9% VAT rate given the ongoing issues relating to workers' rights and pay plus employers' refusal to engage with the JLC? Are there any other supports Ms Dunne believes should or could be removed? In her opinion, has non-compliance of employers' groups stopped the JLC in its tracks? What changes in legislation would be required to rectify that?

I would be interested to hear the stance of Unite the Union on the right to join a union while the employer is not obliged to recognise that union. I cannot believe that is actually the law of the land. Unite mentioned absence of trade union access in the sector. Would it recognise that failing as part of the reason workers in the sector do not have the confidence as it stands? The employer can simply not recognise the union regardless of what the union says. Would recognising that failing help workers? Are statistics available regarding unionisation levels within the sector? We know it is an issue. We saw that in the case of The Ivy restaurant. What can be done to address that? Sorry for all the questions. We are trying to get as much information as possible.

Dr. Deirdre Curran

I thank Deputy Munster. Why is it worse? The evidence would suggest that because of labour shortages, the workers who stayed have to compensate for the absence of workers. They have to work much harder and work longer hours. They have to train in new recruits who might only stay a week because they are not suited to it. Therefore, it is much harder for them. Inflation is an issue. Being on low wages, getting to work and back home, and finding accommodation is all adding to the stress. Customer behaviour and expectations are a further issue. I do not know if the Deputy has looked at the prices of hotels in Galway and Dublin recently but they have gone sky-high so customers expect much higher levels of service. In the context of labour shortages, that places extra strain on workers.

On what other research might be done, the research I have done is very modest but I am the only one doing it. I desperately want more research along the same lines, looking at what is wrong and how to make it right. There is scope for research to highlight good practice because there is good practice out there. I know it because I know employers. I am building an alliance of well-minded, ethical employers. Addiction in the industry is a problem, which I will not go into, because of all the stress involved. We need research into addiction rates and how to address that as well. That is my tuppence-worth.

Mr. Rob Kelly

Obviously, workers have the right to join a trade union and employers continuing to ignore and block us is a major issue. We would call for amendments to the Industrial Relations Act 1990 to allow collective bargaining and that, when we get density within workplaces, employers are left with no choice but to sit down and negotiate with us. Dr. Curran referred earlier to workers having a voice. Many workers in the industry do not recognise or know about trade unions, and that it is on us. We need to get involved in a strong campaign across the sector, letting workers know their rights and organising those workers. If employers do not want to sit down and join us, it is to be hoped we will have enough organisation on the ground to be able to do something significant to those employers, such as what we did outside The Ivy restaurant.

Ms Fiona Dunne

In regard to the right to join a union we would welcome any legislation which would give employers encouragement to ensure they recognise trade unions and that people can join trade unions. Collective bargaining and JLCs would help to change the culture. Union recognition is very important.

In terms of staff shortages and the increase in wages, it would be imagined, given the neoliberal view of economics and ideas of equilibrium, supply and demand, that wages would go up. That is not the case. We have seen in the first quarter that wage increases have not happened. They are still trailing the living wage and will continue to trail that because the living wage is going up in July, so there will be a bigger gap between what they are earning and the living wage, plus there is 8% inflation. They are just going to fall further into debt and further away from a proper wage. It is important that, in terms of what the Government is doing about the living wage next year, we would expect it to do something quicker. We would expect the Government to do it over a shorter period of time and look at 66% of the median wage rather than 60%, which what it is at the moment. Those are my points regarding wages.

On knowledge of unions, I agree with what Mr. Kelly said about a campaign. Also, if we are targeting students and targeting people to go into the sector for proper careers, when people go in on apprenticeships, why is the union not allowed to talk to the students about their rights as part of their college course? Dr. Curran mentioned this in terms of subjects that could be included. We do not do employment rights per se in school, and we do not necessarily do it in college either. There is a place for that because we see increasingly across different sectors that workers are not getting their rights because they are unaware of them. That would be useful.

On the specific question asked about removing the lower VAT rate and everything else, the most important thing is that, if the Government gives money to a company or support to an organisation or a sector, it comes with conditions that workers should be properly paid, should have decent terms and conditions, and should have a proper career progression. It should not just be handed to the sector to do with it what it wants. There should be conditions. We see it not just in this sector around VAT but also in public procurement constantly where contracts are given to all kinds of contractors in all areas of work who do not treat their staff correctly, even though they are public contracts and public works. That could easily be tightened up. There should be very strong conditions attached to any public money we give to contractors.

Mr. Denis Hynes

Ms Dunne is right. The veto in 2012 did not help, so how do we get the JLC back? It requires Government to invite the parties in. It requires it to invite the employer side and the union side in to talks and try to move this along. That is the first step. From there we can work forward.

The Deputy also asked about organising the right to join a union. That was all covered under the JLC. I do not sit in front of the committee today asking it to organise workers for us. We are big and strong enough to do that ourselves. We have been doing that, and are continuously doing it. What I do not want to see happening, and what none of us here wants to see happening, is the workers and members we currently have in this employment being compared to those who have worse pay and worse conditions at a time when pay and conditions are heading south. We do not want that to happen. We want to put a stop to that if we can and bring back the JLC. I am becoming repetitive.

I thank Mr. Hynes and Deputy Munster for her questions. I call on Senator Gavan, who is very welcome. He is a newcomer to this committee.

I thank the Chair. I also thank Senator Malcolm Byrne for allowing me to come in early. I have an interview to do on this topic in approximately seven or eight minutes time. I acknowledge that all of our guests have played a key role in highlighting some of the major problems in the sector over the years. They led on the tips campaign which has come to fruition in the shape of the Bill that we hope to progress this evening. I respectfully encourage all members of this committee to read the detailed research of Dr. Curran because, frankly, it is shocking. To give one statistic, three in ten employees who she interviewed agreed that they have either experienced or observed workplace abuse. It is the kind of stuff we do not hear about often in the sector. We hear the good-news stories and we hear stories when the sector is in crisis. Let us be honest, the sector has come through a couple of very tough years. At the heart of this issue are the people whose voices have not been heard except through the work done by these fantastic people before the committee.

I will be brief but I want to raise a couple of questions. I will ask my questions in one batch to allow our guests to respond. Will Dr. Curran expand a little on some of the survey work that was done in respect of people's experiences? That abuse statistic was shocking but the surveys also touched on issues around schedules changing at short notice, which six out of ten respondents noted. How does one plan a life outside work with that little power? It is an issue of power. There is a lack of power in the workplace for such employees.

I wish to focus on the statistic that 68% of workers in the sector are paid less than €12 per hour. We know that is not good for the employees. Is it good for the sector? I want to quote the Tánaiste in that regard. I believe he meant it when he said: "It is important that the tourism and hospitality sectors are seen as a valued and sustainable career choice." If 68% of employees are paid less than €12 per hour, how is this sector a sustainable career choice?

What do we do about this veto? I am clear that this Government and previous Governments have gone out of their way to support the sector. However, I do not see fairness when the voices of employees are excluded. How can this committee help to end the JLC veto?

Dr. Deirdre Curran

We have not brought sleeping bags so there is a limit to the amount of detail into which I can go. Some 63% of employees witnessed or experienced bullying. Some 55% witnessed or experienced harassment. Those are numbers, but a lot of my report contains the words of hospitality workers. We tend to forget there are human beings behind this. If the committee will bear with me, I would like to read one quote. When I asked one respondent what she liked least about working in hospitality, the following was her reply.

I hated the times customers felt like I was a drop out from society or spoke to me as if I had not tried to make things right for them. I hated being made to feel guilty by colleagues by needing time off, or even just wanting it. I hated that I started to resent colleagues for the same reason. I hated being tired. I hated not being fed. I hated not having a place to take a breath and be alone. I hated getting so sucked in that I have lost friends because I always put my job first because I had been tricked into thinking that this is the only way to work. So, there was nothing I "liked least", I HATED aspects of my job. And it is sad that a job made me feel that way.

I apologise, but I have to run.

Dr. Deirdre Curran

In the research I have done, there are many testimonies from employees about ill-treatment. I have heard about everything from verbal abuse to physical abuse and downright assault in the workplace. In my testimony, there is a story of a girl who burned her face dramatically and significantly with a soup gun, and was expected to go straight back to work. She ended up having to have plastic surgery. There is a lot of evidence. We need to hear the human stories behind the statistics and that is why I say to Deputy Munster that we need more research to give voice to workers.

I do want to say that today is a great day for hospitality workers because the tips Bill includes service charges. That was heavily lobbied for by me and Ms Julia Marciniak, who could not be with us today because she is on sick leave. She is a Trojan advocate for hospitality workers. I did not want to let the opportunity pass without mentioning her name.

I will ask our guests to pause for a moment. Two members would still like to come in and we are very short on time. If our guests wish to reply to some aspect of Senator Gavan's questions, they can submit that in writing and we will ask the clerk to include it in the committee's report.

I thank our guests. In the context of this report, it is important that we have independent, evidence-based research. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence around the sector, which is a part of the challenge. I was at the meeting the committee had with representatives of Fáilte Ireland, the Irish Hotels Federation and the Restaurants Association of Ireland, and vintners' representatives. Dare I say it, the picture that was painted then was different from the picture being drawn today. I have no doubt but that it is not all rosy in the garden. I certainly would not support any bad or exploitative employers. I disagree with Mr. Hayes's choice of phrase when he said there is a culture of exploitation within the sector. I would challenge that on the basis that I think the overwhelming majority of employers are either good employers or want to be good employers. That is not to say there are issues that cannot be addressed.

Mr. Kelly made a point about full compliance with all workplace laws. I agree, but the Workplace Relations Commission must have a role in that regard. Part of the challenge facing me relates to listening to the two sets of evidence. I generally tend to find that the truth is somewhere in between.

The suggestion that there is a culture of exploitation would seem to imply that a majority, or a significant number, of employers are exploiting workers. I do not necessarily accept that. I will challenge our guests on that point and ask them to prove their case.

Mr. Denis Hynes

The statistics are that 68% of employees working in the hospitality sector are paid less than €12 per hour.

Where are those statistics coming from?

Mr. Denis Hynes

I will tell the Senator that. Some 16% of employees are paid less than €10 per hour. Some 62% of workers do not receive a Sunday premium. Some 33%-----

I am conscious of time and, with respect, Mr. Hynes has already cited those figures. Where are they from?

Mr. Denis Hynes

Those are Fáilte Ireland figures. The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland conducted a survey with 1,000 migrant workers, 25% of whom did not receive the minimum wage. Some of them had been employed for five years. I am giving the Senator the figures.

I am lobbied all the time about work permits and the delays included in that process. One of the requirements in order to get a work permit for non-EEA workers is that their annual remuneration must be at least €30,000 per year. I appreciate that depends on the number of hours we are talking about. How can Mr. Hynes reconcile the fact that the legal requirement to qualify for a work permit is that the payment must be at least €30,000 per year with the claim that people are being paid less than €10 per hour? I am curious about that.

Mr. Denis Hynes

My response to that would be-----

I am merely asking the question.

Mr. Hynes seems to imply that the majority of people who are employed on work permits here are paid less than the legally required €30,000 per annum.

Mr. Denis Hynes

I am giving the Senator the statistics that are in the public arena. The figures are not mine and I have not just plucked them from the air.

I am not saying that.

Mr. Denis Hynes

I do not suggest that the Senator has said that.

It is just that the committee has not seen the figures.

Mr. Denis Hynes

I have given hard facts. I am not familiar with how a €30,000 wage is made up using overtime, certain premiums or whatever. I am not familiar with how the application is put forward for a visa.

Mr. Hynes gets my point. On a regular basis we deal with the issue whereby for employers to get a work permit they must show they will pay at least €30,000 per annum. Why would an employer go to the lengths of having to ensure they must pay somebody over €30,000 per annum plus pay, I think, €1,000 per year for a permit?

Mr. Denis Hynes

All I can say is that without doubt, according to surveys conducted by Fáilte Ireland, that 68% are not being paid and I do not know how it worked out that figure.

I ask the Chairman to request Fáilte Ireland to supply us with its data, which would get back to our point about having evidence-based data.

I am very concerned whether the phrase "a culture of exploitation" appears. There are bad employers but many of the employers in the sector that I know are good employers. They care for their staff, look after them and are interested in providing a career path for their staff. I say that because it is important that we acknowledge good employers.

Dr. Deirdre Curran

The Senator has said that "the overwhelming majority of employers" treat their staff well and Mr. Hynes has said that there is "a culture of exploitation". My answer is that we do not know as my research is the only research available and the 2019 survey was on 257 employees out of a workforce of 180,000. We need research done in order to have factual-based discussions about what actually goes on.

I have a list of good employers and believe that highlighting good employers must form part of any strategy. Employment rights only go so far. Having a right does not mean one gets that right. Rights are breached every day. Rights are the stated minimum standard but we also need incentives to raise the standard beyond the legal minimum.

That is a core recommendation, Chairman. When I prepared for this committee I discovered that a lack of evidence is one of the challenges.

Dr. Deirdre Curran


There is lots of anecdotal evidence and I am not saying that it is not important. I certainly agree with the earlier point made about the necessity to have an information campaign so people are made aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Am I correct to say that the Senator has requested that we, as a committee, write to Fáilte Ireland seeking its statistics?

Yes, the data or statistics.

We should request anybody who has evidenced-based statistics or data to supply same, particularly as the committee will produce a policy document at the end of this process and it should be based on existing evidence. I do not wish to defend bad employers but I do not want the impression to go out that there is a culture of exploitation in the sector. I do not believe that to be the case.

Can I get agreement from my colleagues that we write to Fáilte Ireland and ask it to supply its research? Agreed. Did the Senator get all of the answers he sought? Yes.

I welcome our guests. First, the Workplace Relations Commission is the statutory body that conducts inspections and prosecutes employers who break the law. Do the unions value the work of the WRC? Have there been issues concerning its operation?

Second, Patricia King, Secretary General, ICTU represents both SIPTU and Unite on the hospitality and tourism forum, which is co-chaired by the Tánaiste and the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Deputy Catherine Martin. In terms of both unions and workers having a voice on the forum, what has been the feedback on discussions and representation? Do the witnesses feel that the Government has responded in a way that ensures that money for low-income earners has improved following the introduction of the Living Wage Bill and the Payment of Wages (Amendment) (Tips and Gratuities) Bill?

Payment of Wages (Amendment) (Tips and Gratuities) Bill

Chairman: Does the Deputy wish to address that to a representative of each organisation or someone specific?

Each organisation.

Dr. Deirdre Curran

The WRC is a fantastic institution but there is a labour shortage. The last time I looked the inspectorate had 77 positions of which only 41 were filled. The truth is that hospitality workers will not go to the WRC because they do not know it exists and if they did then they would feel too intimidated. The inspection service is brilliant because the inspectors can conduct an inspection even without an invitation. That is as much as I will say as the other questions are for the unions.

Mr. Rob Kelly

Of course we place value on the WRC because if negotiations break down locally then we can go to the WRC and negotiate. From my experience of the WRC, when employers do not want to engage they just do not and the issue gets kicked up to the Labour Court. Unfortunately, my experience in the Labour Court of almost two decades is that the environment has become very litigious. Plus, far more credence is given to the legal profession when they come to the Labour Court than to industrial relations practitioners. When one is in front of adjudication officers at conciliation then a greater effort is made to break down the differences between the parties but if employers do not want to engage then it feels like one is knocking one's head off the wall.

Ms Fiona Dunne

I reiterate what has been said about the WRC and the labour inspectorate. Dr. Curran mentioned a labour shortage. There has been a shortage of labour inspectors for a very long time. In regard to the 2016 national agreement, there was an agreement to increase the number of labour inspectors to 99 or something like that figure. The number is still way below that figure and the issue could very quickly be dealt with.

On representing unions, Patricia King represents the entire trade union movement, particularly workers in the tourism and hospitality sector. We acknowledge that we are represented on the forum but it is only one of many stakeholder forums. All trade unions, including Unite and SIPTU, should be included in other forums and the JLC, which is a sectoral forum. We have debated the JLC here and I am sure that members understand the importance of having all stakeholders at the negotiating table.

On the improvement in the living wage rate, it is a slow increase. As I stated in my briefing paper, we want the living wage to be improved more quickly, particularly in light of inflation and to consider it in terms of 66% of the median wage rather than 60%, and over four years. We would prefer to see 66% and a much quicker term. Germany, France and, I think, Belgium, have already supplemented their minimum wages increases twice this year in light of the cost-of-living crisis, which is something for consideration by the committee.

Yes, the tips legislation is a move in the right direction for workers. We are delighted that there is finally recognition that workers should get tips on the card, and the policy is displayed that the service charge goes to workers, which is what was originally intended to happen as far back as the 1950s. That aspect was negotiated as part of the sectoral issues. I hope that I have answered all of the questions.

Last but not least I call Mr. Hynes.

Mr. Denis Hynes

I echo everything that my colleagues have said about the WRC and great work is being done by the National Employment Rights Authority. Again, if there is a willingness by the employer's side then in most cases a solution will be found. I hope that the tips legislation will go through later this afternoon. The legislation is welcome and I am delighted with it. All of us have worked very hard on the issue for more than a decade and it is great to see this happen.

I shall briefly reply to Senator Gavan who asked what would fix the JLC and my answer is that people should consider what caused the veto.

Dublin and Cork were seen as having traditionally higher paid earners working in hospitality, so Dublin and Cork were excluded from the JLC. That is what caused the veto. That is what happened in the High Court. If Dublin and Cork were included in a new JLC, that would solve that problem. The figures Fáilte Ireland gave - it was not me or SIPTU or anyone else here - are reflective of people working in hospitality in Dublin and Cork as much as anywhere in rural Ireland.

We have to conclude. I thank Deputy Dillon for that question and all my colleagues for their intensive engagement today. I thank all our guests for being so passionate about what they represent. That passion is very palpable. We will do all in our power to endeavour to support the work they are trying to do.