Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Questions (40)

Imelda Munster

Question:

40. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps she has taken to ensure that jobs created here by client companies of IDA Ireland are of decent quality and offer decent pay and conditions; if her Department maintains records regarding the pay scales relating to jobs offered by IDA Ireland companies; if not, whether she will consider same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50132/19]

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Oral answers (10 contributions) (Question to Business)

I want to ask the Minister about the steps she has taken to ensure that jobs created here by client companies of IDA Ireland are of decent quality and offer decent pay and conditions. I also want to ask if her Department maintains records on pay scales relating to such jobs and, if not, whether she will consider ensuring that it does so in the future.

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. Creating high-quality, well-paid and secure jobs, whether in indigenous or overseas firms, has been a top priority of mine ever since becoming Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

The multinational sector in Ireland continues to thrive, with new jobs being created in sectors including information and communications technologies, life sciences and financial and business services. Many of these positions involve sophisticated and knowledge-intensive activities, such as manufacturing, shared services activities and research and development.

The average salary of jobs created by the clients of IDA Ireland is €66,000 per annum. This is significantly higher than the national average wage of €46,000 per annum and reflects the high value nature of the roles in the firms concerned.

The strong salaries generally offered by multinational firms are only one of the benefits foreign direct investment, FDI, has for the Irish economy. Client companies of IDA Ireland also have a hugely positive effect on the local economy, with over eight jobs being created for every ten directly FDI-driven roles. Overseas firms also invest heavily in research and development and generate significant revenue for the Exchequer. It is also the case that many of the multinational firms in Ireland have been operating here for many decades. The jobs they provide, and the wider commercial activity they sustain across the economy, have therefore been vital in supporting families and communities for many years across our island.

The salaries offered by IDA Ireland client firms also reflect the capacity of our talented workforce. That has been internationally recognised again recently, with the International Institute for Management Development ranking Irish workers highly in terms of flexibility, adaptability and motivation. I know as well, from regularly meeting overseas firms that operate here, there is nothing they value higher than the quality of our people.

We have long been successful in attracting FDI, particularly through the work of IDA Ireland and by offering low corporation tax rates and other questionable tax incentives to foreign companies. In fact, we overly rely on FDI. Our economy is over-reliant on a small number of multinational corporations in the context of the tax take. Some 45% of the total corporation tax take for 2018 came from just ten companies, which shows how vulnerable the State would be if those companies were to jump ship.

I was interested to hear the Minister state that the average wage of a job created by IDA Ireland is €66,000 per annum because I found it hard to get that sort of information from IDA Ireland. I wrote to the latter seeking clarification on pay scales for employees in its client companies and was told that such information is not available. I was not seeking any personal or private details, I was looking for broad information on the pay scales to get an idea of the quality of the jobs being provided by IDA Ireland client companies. I do not see why this information would be denied to me. There is a difference between looking for the average wage and looking for the pay scales. Can the Minister explain why this difficulty is there and whether she stands over it? These companies are given funding by IDA Ireland so I do not see why they would not release information of that sort.

The average salary figure of €66,000 per annum I have given the Deputy is calculated using my Department's annual business survey of economic impact, which entails consulting with up to 4,200 companies across the country. However, neither my Department nor IDA Ireland has access to comprehensive information on the pay scales or salary levels within multinational companies in Ireland. As will be appreciated, details such as this are operational matters for firms themselves. There is no obligation, legal or otherwise, on companies to provide such information to my Department or to IDA Ireland. It is also the case companies are often reluctant, for reasons of commercial sensitivity, to making information widely available on the conditions or salaries they offer to their employees. What is clear, however, from the information available is the jobs being created by multinational firms are well paid on average and are well above the national average wage.

I know there is no legal obligation to provide that information but as companies in receipt of State funding, grants and questionable tax incentives, one would imagine that the Department or IDA Ireland would be delighted to give out the information on pay scales, even if only to prove they are providing quality jobs.

I want to give the Minister another example. National Pen in County Louth received €2.9 million in funding from IDA Ireland last year. So far, it has ignored a Labour Court recommendation to recognise a trade union for the purposes of collective bargaining. That recommendation was made two months ago and the company has continued to ignore attempts to even begin negotiations on that. The company received substantial funding from IDA Ireland, the workers are taxpayers and the Labour Court has made its recommendations. What does the Minister intend to do about this? Does she intend to do anything? I presume she does not just represent big business and that she also represents ordinary workers. What happens if the Labour Court makes a recommendation and a company in receipt of substantial State funding continues to ignore that recommendation and fails to engage in negotiations?

I am not familiar with the particular case the Deputy mentioned so I do not want to comment on it. However, FDI companies make a huge contribution. I only visited WuXi Biologics outside Dundalk three weeks ago. That company announced 200 new jobs in addition to the 400 jobs already announced. There will be 600 high-quality jobs in the biopharma space right on the Border in Dundalk. There will be 2,000 people employed next year during the construction phase.

The question related to a Labour Court recommendation.

I just want to tell the Deputy how important FDI is, especially in the Border region. She should go and look at that site. The development taking place there is amazing. Some 2,000 people will be employed on the site come January in light of the work due to be carried out.

They will be 600 high quality jobs and staff from throughout the region - Cavan, Monaghan, Meath and Louth - will work on construction and at the company. It represents investment of €500 million, which is a massive vote of confidence in the Border region.

Those jobs are welcome, but the Minister has not answered my question-----

The supplementary questions have been asked. The next question, Question No. 41, in the name of Deputy Troy, will be taken by Deputy Scanlon.