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Workers (health) rights? November 24, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Can’t say I’m a huge fan of this character after some of the reporting of recent protests, but he does raise a good point in the following.

From the outset, this government and the previous administration have been scared stiff to do anything that might be perceived as heavy-handed. Some of this can be attributed to an attempt to keep people onside, more though is down to insulating themselves from any political backlash. Instead, they have resorted to waving the law like a threat and scurrying off. Is it any wonder that three weeks into the lockdown, large swathes of the public have copped on that there will be precious little enforcement? The approach also drains credibility from the gardaí’s role. Nobody fears an encounter with the gardaí in relation to straying beyond the 5km if the outcome will only be an instruction to turn around and go home.


A cursory glance at any of the main routes into towns and cities around the state demonstrates that the 5km rule is simply not being observed. Dr Holohan referenced that the message about restricted movement is not getting through. “You look at the traffic and you look at what’s going on in workplaces, people will tell you stories that carparks are full, some people are really not listening to this message. And they’re meeting up unnecessarily.”

In the IT subsequent to that interview with Holohan that was said to be anecdotal – Cliff Taylor took Holohan to task suggesting that because he didn’t see it ‘If people are being pressurised to come into the office, it isn’t here’ – rather missing the point that it’s not necessarily office workers who are most at risk of being forced back into workplaces, though some without question have been. But Taylor, oddly, ignored the fact this wasn’t just anecdotal because no lesser authority than the Tánaiste noted the following only a few days earlier:

At the Oireachtas Enterprise Committee on Wednesday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that while more people were back at work, this was due to a widening of the definition of essential work. “There are definitely more people going to work now than in the original lockdown of March and April but there are many different reasons for that. “First, there is a wider definition of essential work and we now include construction, manufacturing, international trade and services and supply chains.”

In other words definitions are stretched to breaking point and some employers have taken advantage of that to see their workforces return to their original workplaces. I know of people working in companies where it’s literally business as usual again, despite closing and remote working in the first lockdown. Indeed in one instance the rhetoric was one of ‘we just have to live with this’. That bypassing the lockdown by forcing workers back into workplaces undermines the lockdown seemed to have escaped those making that assertion. Almost needless to say unions are conspicuous by their absence in such contexts. Small wonder there’s now much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the lack of compliance with the spirit of the lockdown. One could ask where are the sanctions to make it meaningful. But in all this some workers are placed in environments that are unsuitable given the severity of the pandemic and the necessity to try to constrain it to the greatest degree possible.


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