Vote 41 : Labour.

I move :

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £10 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1977, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Labour, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain grants-in-aid.

The main items in this Supplementary Estimate relate to training, that is, an additional £1.2 million for An Comhairle Oiliúna, comprising £1 million for general expenses and £200,000 for capital expenditure; £50,000 additional for the Irish Management Institute; and £60,000 extra for the Council for Education, Recruitment and Training of Hotel and Catering workers. The January, 1977, budget provided for additional grants to AnCO over and above these shown in the main Estimate for the Department and the amounts now being sought for AnCO relate, in part, to the additional budgetary provision. The grants which AnCO get from the Exchequer are supplemented by moneys from the European Social Fund. Grants amounting to £6.9 million have been approved, or are expected to be approved, from the fund in respect of the 1977 operations of AnCO.

The main item of AnCO expenditure is on their direct training activities which take place in their network of training centres and in training facilities hired from other bodies. This aspect of the activities of AnCO has been greatly expanded in recent years as has the demand by individual workers for training by AnCO. The expansion has contributed to a general raising of the level of individual skills to meeting the needs of our expanding industrial base, particularly those of new industry and to providing improved employment opportunities for a growing number of workers. The resources now sought, together with the corresponding Social Fund grants, provide for a further stage in the increase of direct training facilities. AnCO expect to train 12,500 people in 1977 as compared with 10,000 in 1976.

The expansion of training is one of the Government's most useful weapons for helping to cope with the unemployment problem. As AnCO recover up to 50 per cent of the bulk of their training expenditure from the European Social Fund—this figure incidentally will be increased to 55 per cent from 1st January next—and as there are off-setting savings to the Exchequer on social welfare benefits, the nett cost to the Exchequer is relatively low. The skills of the trainees are much enhanced and their employment prospects improved. In 1976 over 80 per cent of AnCO trainees were placed in employment within six months of completion of training. I am satisfied, therefore, this additional expenditure in 1977 is well justified.

The grant to the IMI is being increased from £300,000 to £350,000. The grant to the institute has been held at £300,000 for several years and has represented a steady falling percentage of the institute's income. I have reviewed the matter recently and decided that, in view of the importance of management training to the development of the economy, some increase in 1977 is called for. Recovery from the recent recession and the solution of our employment problems will call for the highest expertise from Irish management. The institute can make a major contribution to raising management performance.

As regards CERT, this organisation, which has heretofore concentrated on training for hotel employment, has been extending its activities in relation to training for catering and tourism. The great majority of those who benefit from training organised by CERT are young people. In view of the improvement in our tourism industry and the good prospects for the future, an additional £60,000 is provided for CERT for 1977.

Incidentally, both CERT and the IMI also benefit from grants from the European Social Fund.

Two new subheads provide for grants to the Council for the Status of Women and the Employment Equality Agency. The Council for the Status of Women is an umbrella organisation, representing 30 women's organisations. The grant is to be matched by a grant paid by the Commission of the European Communities, which has invited the council to operate an information centre on women's rights in this country. Similar centres are being established in the other EEC member countries.

The Employment Equality Agency was established under the Employment Equality Act, 1977, and came into operation on 1st October, 1977. The agency is concerned, in the public interest, with working towards the elimination of discrimination against women and promoting equality of opportunity between men and women in the employment field. It will also advise the Government on the working of both the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974, and the Employment Equality Act, 1977, and make recommendations for any amendment of these statutes which it considers necessary. The provision in the Supplementary Estimate is for staff costs and other operating expenses of the agency during the last quarter of this year.

An additional grant of £10,000 for the National Industrial Safety Organisation is also provided. For the last couple of years NISO have been able to meet a good deal of their expenses from certain accumulated reserves which have now been exhausted. In effect, this grant provides for a return to the normal level of financing of NISO. I consider it important that the valuable activities of NISO in promoting an awareness of the needs for workplace safety and in encouraging better standards of Industrial safety, health and welfare should not be curtailed.

The Supplementary Estimate indicates that there will be savings on the new subhead for the employment incentive scheme, which was opened in the first Supplementary Estimate for the Vote passed in May last and for which a sum of £3 million was voted. Unfortunately the expectations of the previous administration have not been realised about the extent to which this employment premium scheme would be availed of by employers. Since the present Government took over, the rate of premiums for school-leavers has been increased from £10 to £14 with effect from 12th September, 1977; and the scheme, which was confined to manufacturing industry and agriculture, has been extended to cover additional employment in construction and services generally. However, the impact of these decisions on expenditure in 1977 has not yet been great and their main impact is likely to be on 1978 expenditure. The scheme as so far announced applies to additions to the workforce up to 24th February, 1978, but premiums will be payable in respect of qualified additions for a period of up to 24 weeks from the qualifying date. It is my intention that this scheme in its extended form would apply to additions to the workforce up to the end of 1978.

If time permits I will endeavour to answer any questions that may be raised.

There are ten minutes left and I would ask the Deputies to divide this time between them. That is all I can suggest.

It is an unsatisfactory situation but it cannot be helped. I am not going to oppose the Supplementary Estimate. I welcome some of the proposals, particularly the increase for the Irish Management Institute.

One of the main problems in Irish industry, particularly in our industrial relations, is bad management. That is not in any way to excuse the behaviour of the trade unions in certain areas or, as in the case of many unofficial disputes, the abandonment of trade unions by their members. When there is a strike trade unions are blamed but very seldom is the blame put on management. Yet there are two sides to every story. As we have heard from the Taoiseach, Ministers and the IDA, in the Ferenka dispute the management were very much at fault.

It is important that we have proper management training. The Minister is responsible for industrial relations and I would ask him to take a special interest in training managers in personnel functions and in industrial relations.

In view of the very limited time at my disposal I shall have to omit part of my prepared notes. I am sorry to learn that the employment incentive scheme is not living up to expectations. Certainly that is a disappointment in view of the emphasis placed on it by the Government and ourselves in the need for job creation. As I perceive the problem it is even more serious than has been recognised generally, especially bearing in mind the increasing participation of women in economic activity.

Even bearing in mind the increase to £14 in the youth employment premium scheme it is not a sufficient incentive to overcome the disadvantage of the social welfare stamp. I would ask the Minister to address himself particularly to this problem—if it is correct that there should be an effective pay-roll tax on employment. It is especially penal on labour-intensive industries. If we are serious about job creation we shall have to give thought to some way of ameliorating the employers' social welfare contribution. Perhaps something on the line of a reducing scale as the number of employees increases could be considered —perhaps a reduction of 5 per cent in the contribution for every 50 persons employed or something of that nature. To my mind that is the largest factor militating against the effectiveness of the employment incentive scheme and the youth employment premium scheme. I would hope the Minister could persuade the Minister for Finance to do something about it.

I should like to say something about the national pay agreement. This is the first opportunity I have had to speak on labour matters in this House, and I avail of the opportunity also to wish the Minister well in his new post and to assure him that, as long as I am convinced he is doing all he can, he will have my uncontroversial support. I regret to say that, in relation to the Ferenka dispute I did not press the Minister on the issue in the House on the 9th and 10th December. However, the Minister is new to the job and I shall forget that issue for the moment. I hope he will be more forthcoming in the House in the future and more active in the area of difficult disputes. I very much hope a reasonable increase will be achieved with regard to the national pay agreement.

I know the Minister for Finance has many promises to live up to and that he will have a difficult time meeting even a proportion of them in the forthcoming budget. But the national interest demands a reasonable pay agreement which I strongly believe would be facilitated by income tax concessions. It is unfortunate that the Minister for Economic Planning and Development has sought to bring into the area of the national pay agreement domestic rates and abolition of car tax which has nothing whatever to do with it. Everybody is aware that car tax and rates are gone. It is a pity that sort of confidence trick could jeopardise——

I must remind the Deputy that there are only four minutes left. I might add also that we cannot discuss the national pay agreement on this Supplementary Estimate.

The Deputy is regretting the fact that rates and car tax have been abolished.

I shall look forward to an early opportunity of speaking at greater length on the subject.

This is the first opportunity I have of complimenting the Minister on his appointment. I wish him well in his onerous and difficult task.

I should like to avail of the few minutes left to me to clarify the position in regard to industrial work here. Following some weeks of public debate at national and local level there is a need to vindicate the rural industrial worker. Some weeks ago, on the Industrial Development Bill, 1977, I urged the Minister responsible to allocate as many industries as possible to small towns and settlements in rural areas. That was my tribute to the role of rural industries and their achievements in recent years, especially that of the rural industrial worker. From experience of my area the siting of further industries in such areas will continue to aid our industrial development. Following the Ferenka disaster and the ensuing public debate on the reasons for its closure or who was to blame, many hints, references and indeed sneers were made. In fact there was an undercurrent smear campaign questioning the expertise, ability and intelligence of the rural industrial workers. I regret to say that many of those suggestions and inferences came from both sides of the industrial divide, about which I am most concerned. I believe those remarks and inferences have done an injustice to a very fine body of workers. On a television programme, I think on Friday week, the editor of a Limerick city paper was interviewed when, to my mind, his only contribution to the solution of the problem at Ferenka was a sneer when he outlined a particular incident that had occurred. The only contribution he made to the settlement of the industrial dispute was a sneer at the industrial workers of Limerick. As Shadow Minister for Labour I take strong exception to such remarks. I want to put the record straight as regards the industrial workers of my region from my 20 years' experience in local affairs.

In the mid-West region, as far as the national picture is concerned, the greatest example of industrial development is what has occurred at Shannon Industrial Estate. Of the 6,000 workers approximately 85 per cent come from rural areas. Need I place on the record of the House our appreciation of what has taken place at the Shannon complex? Industries have been created there second to none and their labour relations are to be envied also when contrasted with many other parts of the country. When we speak of non-nationals and concerns involving workers in new enterprise I should like to place on the record of the House the mining concern in my town employing 600 people. It has been established now ten years and I am satisfied that, if the Canadians decided to pull out tomorrow, Irish management at Mogul would be well able to continue to carry out the duties entailed in this industry.

May I thank the Deputy for his good wishes.

Vote put and agreed to.