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Ireland in breach of five provisions of the European Social Charter January 25, 2017

Posted by Tomboktu in Collective Bargaining, Council of Europe, Employment Rights, Equality, Women's rights.
4 comments

Ireland is in breach of five human rights provisions under the European Social Charter, the Council of Europe announced today.

Breaches were found on workers’ rights and on the rights of people with disabilities. The findings were announced by the European Committee of Social Rights, an independent body set up to assess legal compliance with the human rights in the Charter.

Ireland breaches the right of workers to earn their living in an occupation they freely enter in for three reasons:

  • the maximum compensation in discrimination cases (other than gender discrimination) is too low to make good the loss suffered and to be dissuasive;

  • foreign workers can face discrimination in getting employment in the public service;

  • army officers cannot resign their commission early unless they repay part of the cost of their education and training, and the decision to grant early retirement is left to the discretion of the Minister of Defence, which could lead to a period of service which is too long.

Ireland also breaks workers’ rights because it does not guarantee that overtime work must be paid at a higher rate.

Migrant workers’ rights are breached because the fees to obtain work permits are excessive, the Committee ruled.

The Committee also found that the length of time after recruitment during which a worker can be dismissed is too long. Under the Unfair Dismissals Act, workers are protected against dismissal in limited circumstances during their first year with an employer.

People with disabilities are denied access to technical aids, communication, transport, housing as well as to culture and leisure activities, the Charter’s supervisory body found. This breaches the right of people with disabilities to integration and participation in the life of the community under article 15.2 of the Charter.

The European Charter of Social Rights is the counterpart to the European Convention on Human Rights. Ireland was previously found to be in breach of the Charter because of the extent of the ban on Garda representative bodies taking part in industrial relations procedures, including pay negotiations and membership of Congress. The Government has announced that it will publish a bill to rectify this breach.

Ireland was found to be in conformity with 11 other provisions that were ruled on today. Among these is an article on the right of men and women to equal opportunities. The Committee deferred decisions on five other provisions because the government had not provided enough information for the Committee to assess the situation.

The situations in 34 countries were examined by the Committee. The Committee in particular expressed its concern on equal opportunities between men and women as well as on the protection against discrimination due to disability and in employment due to sexual orientation.

The full text of the Conclusions 2016 for Ireland are here (PDF, 42 pages): hudoc.esc.coe.int/app/conversion/pdf?library=ESC&id=CR_2016_IRL_ENG&filename=CR_2016_IRL_ENG.pdf

The personal & the political: In parallel with the histories December 30, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in Feminism, History, LGBT, Women's rights.
12 comments

My paternal grandmother was told by her doctor in the 1930s that she would be risking her life if she were to have another child. She approached her parish priest to seek his support on raising this with my grandfather, but was told that if God called her and another child to his side, then she should accept God’s will. At some stage between the end of the 1950s and the early 1990s she told my mother, her daughter-in-law. My mother, in turn, told me of this about a decade ago. My mother was clearly angered at how my grandmother had been treated. Her own life was affected by the ban on contraception, although all her children were born before the Supreme Court ruling on contraception in the Magee case or the formation of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement.

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A micro-scene early in the film Pride has the fictional character ‘Bromley’ step out of the Pride parade to watch from the footpath. A woman passes him, and announces her view: ‘disgusting’. And he says ‘Yes’ and nods approvingly. In the succeeding few seconds, George MacKay, the actor who plays ‘Bromley’, conveys the horror that his character feels at betraying what he came to London for that day in 1984, and in a few moment he rejects that betrayal and rejoins the Pride march and the real-life Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.

Later in the film, his sister and mother accidentally find his cuttings from Capital Gay and photographs from events with Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, and we are shown, in silhouette and without dialogue, his parents confronting him when he returns home late that night. Although ‘Bromley’ was a fictional character added to the dramatisation of a historical event, a tweet after the film was screened on St Stephen’s night showed that it reflected a real, lived experience: “Thank you #Pride & the character Bromley for explaining to my family why my uni years were concealed, distant & disassociated.”

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I don’t know if there is a historical school or method that studies the personal experiences of people in social and political changes, particularly of those not in key roles. There might not be; maybe at that stage it ceases being history and becomes biography or sociology. It would also be a more challenging approach: the records are probably less likely to be available. In many cases, the reason will not be that a record was not kept but that there was nothing to record: a silence, the absence of a conversation — even an avoidance of thinking about something.

But those hundreds of thousands of personal experiences and histories are important. A history without them is incomplete. Without survivors of domestic violence telling their stories to other women, there would not have been the campaigns to change police practices, create new laws, or fund emergency shelters, which are the stuff of that history. The narrative of lgb equality is missing something central to its history without the accounts of coming out, of not coming out, of being told, and of different lives in two places, and how those changed over the decades. The stories in the history matter.

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