The council should build into its tender process a way to insist that companies to whom they award contracts treat their employees fairly and pay them properly.
That’s according to Westmeath councillors, who on Monday pledged unanimous support to a proposed charter from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU ) which calls on all employers to provide fair conditions at work.
Liam Berney of the ICTU attended Westmeath County Council’s monthly meeting to gather support from elected members for the body’s Charter for Fair Conditions at Work.
The charter is built around five principles. The first is that a “living wage” of €11.50 per hour is necessary in order for workers to sustain themselves, and that the current minimum wage of €9.15 falls far short of this.
The second is a focus on fair hours of work; ICTU is seeking legislation which will guarantee stable hours and a reliable pattern of working hours to all workers.
The third principle states that workers should have the right to representation from a union and collective bargaining, while the fourth focuses on respect, equality, and ethics at work.
Finally, the charter calls for a fair public procurement process, whereby local authorities can insist that suppliers of goods and services treat their employees in a fair way.
Mr Berney said this last principle would give councils the opportunity, for example, to specify that a contractor pays a certain wage or that employees work a certain pattern of hours; or to ensure that a contractor employs a certain percentage of local people, if undertaking a building project in an unemployment blackspot.
ICTU has already received support from Dáil and Seanad members as well as the majority of local authorities across the country, and plans to continue to lobby until the necessary legislation is put in place.