Reopening of society cannot mean a return to the ‘old normal’, says McNelis

Former mayor calls for job creation efforts, a universal childcare scheme; union legislation, and introduction of a four day week

Labour Galway City West councillor, Niall McNelis.

Labour Galway City West councillor, Niall McNelis.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, it is important to recognise those whose jobs are not returning, and provide support to enable them to engage in training and education.”

This is the view of Labour Galway City West councillor, Niall McNelis, who, along with colleagues in the Galway-West Labour Party, will today mark World Day for Decent Work.

For World Day for Decent Work, the International Trade Union Confederation, together with unions and workers’ rights supporters across the globe, are calling on governments to address the 575 million global jobs gap and to formalise at least half of informal jobs by 2030.

In Ireland, the focus of WDDW is to support job creation efforts; a universal, public, childcare scheme; legislation to ensure meaningful representation by a union; and the introduction of a four day week.

'The old abnormal'

Childcare II

However, Cllr McNelis said the re-opening of society and the easing of restrictions should not mean a ‘return to normal’, as there was too much of pre-pandemic society that was, as he wrote in the Galway Advertiser last year, “the old abnormal”.

“We must not set the ‘old normal’ as our goal,” he said. “This is why I support Labour Women in their campaign for a universal, public, childcare scheme, which will address the high costs, and variable availability, of childcare in Ireland. Access to childcare is important to support gender equality and ensure access to work for all.”

He also called for legislation to ensure a right to meaningful representation by the unions chosen by workers. “Those who work in the so-called ‘gig economy’ need to be recognised as employees, and afforded the same protections and entitlements as others,” he said.

Four day week

Cllr McNelis is also supportive of the efforts by Forsa on the four-day working week. “This has exciting implications for a new social contract, much as previous innovations like the eight-hour day and the five-day week reshaped opportunities for leisure and recreation,” he said.

Cllr McNelis has called on the Government to use its position in the EU, and in multilateral organisations such as the UN and ILO, to push for the adoption of strong worker protections, and conditions of employment, as a new global standard.


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