Private Members' Business. - Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Bill, 1974: Second Stage (Resumed).

Tuesday, 5 March 1974

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 270 No. 12

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Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  Before the debate was adjourned I was speaking about the status of women generally and pointing out that this Bill, if enacted, would help to raise that status. In the early part of this century James Connolly wrote of women that “in Ireland female workers had hitherto exhibited in her martyrdom an almost damnable patience”. That was long before women had any right to work, except in the sweet factories of Ireland or Europe. Irish women still show a damnable patience in some things. I am referring mostly to the housewife and mother who has seen many avant garde movements for the so-called liberation of women. They have not done very much to raise the standard for the housewife and mother who stayed at home from choice or because of family cares.

This legislation must ensure that while we stop the exploitation of women in industry and commerce we do not allow exploitation in the homes. Industry needs women today and encourages them in various ways to go back to work in the factory and the office. One can appreciate that this can happen when we are short of skilled personnel. This could be an indictment of our training system in trades and industries. On the one hand we have many untrained workers and on the other a great shortage of workers. In our crazy way of doing things, we go to the homes and take the mother from her children to work [2097] the machine in the factory or thump some typewriter. That is all wrong.

I hope the Minister in his promised legislation will go so far as to say that the State will pay women who stay at home and look after their families properly. A decision was taken in the EEC about the rights and status of women. Results are expected by June next. Have we done our part to ensure that our legislation will be of the same standard as that of the EEC countries? In a trade union information sheet issued by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in April, 1973, it was said that the EEC advocated the setting up in member states of national committees on women's employment problems and a permanent committee to assist the commission in co-ordination at Community level. This committee would report by 30th June, 1974, with suggestions for improvement in such matters as access to employment, promotion, training and retraining, paid maternity leave, child care facilities, flexibility in hours of work and social security provisions.

As can be seen, a very full programme has been laid out. This may be an indictment of the standards for women in those countries, but I doubt it. It sets a headline which we must aim for in our legislation. We must legislate for the minority if we are to achieve the common good. In recent times we have been allowing ourselves to look after a minority in employment. Yet we have ignored the majority of women who do not seek liberation but who want to feel free to serve their husbands and children better. They want to be moved from the poverty line and live as dignified human beings. The State must ensure that no mother must leave her home and go into industry unless she wishes to do so. If the State does not legislate for this, it is failing in its duty.

Section 2 (1) of the Bill states:

Subject to this Act, it shall be a term of the contract under which a woman is employed in any place of employment that she shall be entitled to the same rate of remuneration as a man who is employed [2098] in that place and by the same employer if both are employed on like work.

This is discrimination. The difference between the sexes is being emphasised. It should be amended to say that equal pay will be given for equal work. Section 2 (2) says:

Nothing in this Act shall prevent an employer from paying to his employees who are employed on like work in the same place of employment different rates of remuneration on grounds other than sex.

Again there is discrimination there. Are we putting the idea into the employer's mind: “I do not want to take on women—or men—so I will use some other grounds to discriminate against them.” Therefore in my view those two sections should be amended. They are ambiguous and clumsy as they stand. Section 10 reads:

...shall be construed as applying equally, in a case converse to that referred to in those sections—

that is, section 2—

to a man in relation to his remuneration relative to that of a woman.

That is even hard to read. Emphasis should be laid on equal pay for equal work. A female chauvinist may insist that this be left in but I can see no reason for it. I do not know of equal work being done by both sexes where a man would be discriminated against on grounds of sex. The Bill could be tidied up by the amendment of sections 2 and 10.

Section 2 states:

Subject to this Act, it shall be a term of the contract—

Does the Minister envisage in this regard a contract in the strict sense of the word or the term loosely that when a person accepts employment he is making a contract which is sacrosanct, which cannot be broken without breaking the law? Does he envisage at some stage that each worker would have a binding contract which both sides might find irksome at times? The Minister should endeavour [2099] to tidy up the subsections of section 2.

I welcome the Bill not because of what is in it but because it promises something more in later legislation. Those who have been pressing for some action on equal pay may be helped by this Bill. I should like to pay tribute to the employers who have implemented equal pay for equal work and to state that the Minister, and the Government, should put their own house in order before they start lecturing private employers. They should make sure that the temporary clerks in the Civil Service receive pay and conditions equal to those on the permanent staff. Apart from the fact that women are affected because of the present system which does not provide for equal pay, some of them are also affected because they are in temporary employment. The State should set a good example in pay scales and conditions of employment. If they did so they would then be in a better position to face the employers, pointing out to them that the headline had been set and they should not drag their heels.

As long as there are people in the Civil Service who are suffering because they are female or temporary something should be done to rectify the matter. There was provision under the last national pay agreement to help these people. Women who also need help are those who sacrifice their jobs to look after aged parents or relatives. We should think of these women before career women although some career women take a career not out of choice but because of compulsion or economic circumstances. I hope I have contributed something in the effort to improve this piece of legislation.

Mr. O'Brien: Information on Fergus O'Brien  Zoom on Fergus O'Brien  I should like to compliment the Minister for bringing this piece of legislation forward particularly in view of the fact that he is in office for less than one year. Earlier we heard Deputies on the opposite side of the House describe this as a bit of window-dressing. I refer to Deputy Colley in particular. The question [2100] of equal pay for equal work for women arose out of the interim report on the status of women which was issued in 1970. In the budget of 1972 Deputy Colley mentioned it as a “national objective”. At that time he stated that it was not to come into being until 1977 but this Government have brought it forward to 1975. I would dispute any window-dressing here.

This Bill highlights the attitude of the present Government towards the social issues which we have to deal with. Deputies have spoken of what is not in the Bill and what the Minister should introduce in the future but this Bill gives women the right to equal pay for equal work. This has been spoken about for a long number of years. Deputy Dowling told us that this operated in continental countries for many years but his party were in Government for 16 years and did precious little about it. We are only in Government one year and it is becoming a reality.

The Bill may have deficiencies but it is the first step along the right road. This is the one issue which was causing problems and concern. It was the one which was spoken most about. Women were doing the very same job as men but were receiving less remuneration for it. When one thinks about it, it is hard to see why it happened or was allowed to go on for so long. One could say there are historical reasons for this—the fact that the Industrial Revolution began a whole new era rather quickly and that the trade union movement tended to look after the aims of men, because it was usual that men controlled the trade union movements. The evolution has now taken place and we now have this worthwhile Bill.

I am happy with the Bill because it does away with a situation about which we have all been speaking for a number of years. Some of those speakers on the Opposition side stated that we were giving the employers a considerable amount of time to alter the status and conditions of women, to run down their job so that they would not have to give them equal pay, but I think they have a low [2101] opinion of women workers. The female worker is contributing in a worthwhile way to the economy and is doing a first class and efficient job. No employer concerned about his own position and business will attempt to do this because he would have a disgruntled staff on his hands. We all know that a disgruntled staff is of little use to anybody.

It should also be borne in mind that there is such a thing in this country as organised labour. Apart from this Bill at all the organised unions and organised labour will see that there is no wrong done to anybody. They will ensure that the terms of this Bill are enforced and operated. I have no doubt that the employers will welcome it because the cheap labour situation tends to militate against productivity. Those operating cheap labour seldom think in terms of updating their equipment or retraining their staff but when it becomes a high cost situation employers tend to look at the productivity side of it. When they look at the productivity side there will be no question of this costing a vast sum of money, as some employers might lead us to think. Some of them will obviously have to rethink their situation and update their equipment. They will also have to rethink their organisation to maximise the efficiency of their staff.

This is good for our economy and it is important that we do this. Another reason I am happy with this Bill is because our partners in the EEC have adopted a similar measure. Luxembourg are in the process of adopting it. We would be accused of formulating some form of cheap labour policy here if we did not do the same thing. Now we can stand beside our partners as equals in this matter and show that we are not second rate, that we are not second leaders but that we are up to standard.

I hope that when we are recruiting the equal pay officers we will be very careful about the type of people we select whether they are male or female. We must ensure that they are concerned with the welfare of people and that they are not just bureaucrats. [2102] This is a job which will require a very delicate touch and great concern for people. I wonder will these inspectors have the right to go into a firm without being invited—I believe they should—to have a look around. This Bill provides that employees who look for equal pay cannot be sacked, but there is always the element of fear that they might be sacked even though the legislation says they will not be sacked or, if they are, the courts will protect their rights. You cannot legislate against fear. It is important that these equal pay officers should be able to make periodic examinations and checks to ensure that the Bill is being implemented and that the concept of equal pay is being operated.

I believe the Bill will operate very well. Some people say that on the Continent the principle does not operate all that well but I believe because of our high trade union labour content here it will work well. There is no reason why it should not. Some people are fearful of becoming members of trade unions but, apart from this Bill, they should have other means of ensuring that their rights are protected. Section 9 provides for a fine of £100 on summary conviction. I am always doubtful about these sums of £100 because, when the people go before a judge, they are fined £5 or £10. We know what has happened under other Acts like the Planning Act. These sums do not seem to act as a deterrent. The Minister should ensure that the deterrents are worthwhile.

The Minister said:

The proportion of women in the workforce has been on the increase for a considerable time...

This is all the more reason why they should have their rights. Deputy Moore spoke about the rights of married women with families. That matter should be looked at too but the way to do it is by better social welfare payments and family allowances, as is done on the Continent. In the last budget there was a first step towards this. We must ensure that the housewife is not just a poorly paid servant but a person of dignity. The [2103] State recognises this by giving ever-increasing family allowances payable to the wife. The married woman has dignity. All that is required is increased social welfare payments.

There are other areas of discrimination like the age barrier, health, where people live. Sometimes a person's address counts against him or her. I have no doubt that the Minister will be looking at these areas. We all recognise this Bill is a first step to deal with discrimination in our society. We are all anxious to ensure that we make the society we live in as equitable as possible. By doing that we would remove frustration and this would lead to a more peaceful situation.

The Bill provides that a woman will have the right to the same pay as a man and that a man will have the right to the same pay as a woman. I suppose it is no harm to write that into the Bill although, in the male-dominated society in which we live, we can well look after ourselves. I suppose it is no harm to write it into the Bill to show that there is equality of treatment for men and women. When the Bill has settled down it will have the great virtue of bringing more women into industry and into commerce.

Women felt deterred from going into industry because they felt they could only get so far. There are very few females on the management side or in the engineer's and architect's professions. We will now have a greater labour force on our market and a very efficient labour force. This will have a great effect on our economy. We all know that when women get involved in politics in our own constituencies they put a great effort into anything they put their minds to. When they feel a sense of fair play which this Bill will give them their contribution will lead to great advances in our economy.

I want to compliment the Minister on this Bill. I was rather surprised by some of the criticisms from the far side of the House. They were going to bring in this Bill, that Bill and the [2104] other Bill. The reason they are sitting on that side of the House is that they did not bring them in. We are bringing them in and, if we continue to bring in this type of legislation, we will remain in Government. I compliment the Minister.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  The last speaker ended up on the note that they have brought in this Bill now, but just look at what they have brought in and the nomenclature of what they have produced. This is described as the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Bill, 1974. The word “Pay” is contained within brackets. This presupposes there will be an Anti-Discrimination (Equal Opportunity) Bill, an Anti-Discrimination (Conditions of Employment) Bill, an Anti-Discrimination (Hours of Employment) Bill. The possibilities are unlimited. I allege this Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Bill is a political title, political windowdressing. Why not call it an Equal Pay Bill? That would be a simple title. It would convey what the Bill intends to do. It would not conjure up in the minds of the public an anticipation of something that does not exist in this Bill. If this title is followed we will have a whole series of Anti-Discrimination Bills. I suppose the title sounds nice. It will give the public the impression that the Coalition Government are doing something that sounds good. It would not do, of course, to call it an Equal Pay Bill. All this reminds me of the series of pictures “Doctor in the House”, “Doctor at Sea”, and so on.

Is “pay” the appropriate word in the title of this Bill? Will the Bill apply to salaries? Will it apply to wages? Will it apply to remuneration? Remuneration can include other items apart from pay. On page 2 a number of words are explained: “the Minister” means the Minister for Labour; “the Court” means the Labour Court; “collective agreement” means an agreement relating to terms, and so on.

There is no definition of “pay”. In the world of today the actual pounds and pence are not everything. Employers who look after their employees [2105] go further than just the pounds and the pence. That is why I register certain protests where the title of the Bill is concerned. It may be possible to amend the title.

I do not think we should look forward to a future littered with Anti-Discrimination Bills with a, b, c, d, x, y, z in brackets. Is there any provision in the Bill paywise, salarywise, remunerationwise, wageswise for industries, occupations and employments in which women only are employed? There could be discrimination in these because there is no comparable employment. There are several occupations in which all female labour is employed. Will this Bill be of any benefit in such occupations?

Doubtless this is a Bill on which we can get more information on Committee Stage, but there are certain questions which come to mind and I should like to hear the Minister on these. In that part of Donegal from which I come we have a fair number of shirt factories employing almost 100 per cent female labour. Is there any guarantee that that percentage will not be discriminated against? Is there any guarantee that it will be safeguarded?

This Bill does not safeguard the employment of women. This is a weakness in the Bill. We may have subsequent Bills safeguarding employment. This Bill certainly does not do that. It would be interesting to find out after this Bill has been in operation for six months or so, whether the same percentage of female employment continues. Is the Minister not putting the cart before the horse here? Would it not be wiser to bring in first a Bill designed to safeguard the numbers of women in industrial employment. I am sure the Minister is aware of the problems this Bill may create. He is not seeking in this measure to prevent a drop in the number of women employed. This could very well happen. I have not studied the Bill in great depth but nowhere has the Minister taken any steps to safeguard the employment of women.

[2106] In section 2 there is the following provision:

Nothing in this Act shall prevent an employer from paying to his employees who are employed on like work in the same place of employment different rates of remuneration on grounds other than sex.

Was it necessary to put that in? Does this not point to a loophole in the whole operation of this? In other words, does not subsection (2) say you must pay equal remuneration to men and women employed on the same work just because they are male and female? But, at the same time, it says that you can pay different remuneration for like work in the same place for other reasons. Certainly, that puts bad and sinful thoughts into the minds of employers. I think it is unnecessary to have this section. Perhaps the Minister can give me a good reason, or a number of good reasons, for having included subsection (2) in section 2.

Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  For reasons of seniority. That was the idea.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  There could be a number of reasons, I know. Is it necessary to say it and why? Piece work is fairly common in certain industries and I am presuming that pay means remuneration for piece work as well as for hourly, daily or weekly employment. It does, I am sure, apply to the civil service, teachers, guards, army and so on. In some of the civil service jobs—teaching and the other State jobs—you have married women and single men paid the same salaries. Married men are paid a higher salary. Do I take it that this will make a change? Will married men and married women be on equal salary and then single men and single women on equal salary? It does not say so in the Bill. Will the Bill remedy the discrimination that exists in the case of teachers, civil servants and others where there is a differentiation not alone as between women and men but as between single men and married men and, therefore, a discrimination [2107] as between married women and married men.

That is most of what I wanted to say at this stage. These are questions that would be posed normally on a Committee Stage debate. I shall not take up the time of the House other than asking those questions and hoping that the Minister will give us the answers in his reply. We should like to know because this is a Bill which may have to be amended fairly extensively. My main reasons for posing those questions is that I am not happy with the Bill. It does a tiny part of the work only of establishing equality to women. It is called “anti-discrimination” to give the public and the country generally the impression that it is the panacea for all the problems of inequality that have existed. It solves one problem of inequality only; that is the problem of pay. Without the introduction of another Bill, side by side with, or included in this one, it may be a discrimination rather than an “anti-discrimination” Bill. If the Minister gives us some of the answers at this stage, then we will be in a position to decide whether or not it is necessary to improve the Bill by amendments and we shall not know until we get more information on the questions asked and, indeed, on the questions posed by all the speakers on this side of the House.

Mr. Esmonde: Information on John Grattan Esmonde  Zoom on John Grattan Esmonde  I think the feeling in this House is that we all want to see a Bill of this nature enacted. No matter what walk of life we represent, we are all aware of the fact that there has been a discrimination against the fair sex in employment and in terms and conditions of employment.

I should like to refer to the definition section and particularly to the use of the word “employed”. Perhaps I might point to a legal matter here. It is the use of the words “contract of service”. It is well known, in courts of law, that there is a very clear distinction between “contract of service” and “contract for service”. Despite the use of words “contract personally to execute any work or labour”, I could see many employers indulging in devices whereby employees coming in [2108] would find themselves virtually in the position whereby their relationship with their employer would have to be regarded as that of a contractor. I gather that this type of manoeuvre has been made use of in England in recent times for the purposes of avoiding tax. It worked for some time and I gather that that gap has since been either wholly or partly plugged. That is why I should like to see, in addition to the words “contract of service” the words “contract for service” included in that definition so as to give the definition a wider ambit and close a possible loophole. The section giving the definition of “employed” may preclude that difficulty but, to make doubly certain and safe, I should like to see those additional words added.

The section that concerns me a little here and which I feel could be used also as a loophole in section 8 because, as far as I can see, section 8 is directed only to dealing with cases of dismissal. There are many other ways in which an employer could get at an employee. I would be afraid that that section would not give protection to the middle-aged employee. I have found in practice as a lawyer that there are various devices whereby people can be eased out of positions of employment. They can actually be downgraded without being dismissed. They can be morally downgraded. A common example is the case of a man who has worked as a senior executive and is seconded to the board of directors of a company, but following a change of management a new board may want to get their man in. This senior executive may have had a contract of employment, in some cases in writing. The way it is done with a man in that position—a man aged about 50 with a lifetime experience and a record of good work, a man who is getting to the stage where he will be retiring—is to bring in a young fellow, very often little more than a wet-nosed kid, as senior to him. A man who has been in a responsible position in the firm may find himself merely a side kick to a young, inexperienced man. The shame is colossal to a man like that. He has no standing in the firm any longer. [2109] There is only one way out and that is to retire and leave his job. My personal experience of dealing with these cases in Ireland is that there are far too many of them. I have seen it happen to lady executives in firms. Very little can be done in those circumstances. If one can anticipate such circumstances arising there is a formula that can be adopted in the drafting of the agreement.

That is why through you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I want to bring this matter to the notice of the Minister. I am aware of the Minister's intentions. They are all in favour of employees. I would hate to see the Minister's good intentions nullified by a manoeuvre such as I have described. In that section of the Bill the use of the word “dismiss” or “dismissal” would seem to be a serious defect.

I do not agree with the last speaker in regard to section 2 (2). One must allow for the fact that the Labour Court when dealing with this legislation must take into consideration the economic circumstances of a company or an employer. It might be economically and physically impossible for a firm to give full parity to employees. I would hope not, but I could conceive of circumstances where that situation could arise. It would be most unfortunate if that were the case that the employer could be deemed to have committed a criminal offence for the purposes of steps being taken under section 8. I do not think that should arise but it might arise in certain cases. One always has exceptions.

I should like to see section 8 altered because of the use of the words “sole or principal reason for dismissal”. This will be rather hard to deal with. Some other formula will have to be thought of. When looking at the section, the first person that comes to my mind is somebody over the age of 45 who has given long, good service to a firm. I have dealt with that point sufficiently already.

I wish the Minister well in implementing the obvious intentions of this Bill. As the last speaker said, we may have to add to the Bill. It must be the unanimous view of this House that [2110] every Deputy should do his best to make this a good Bill, one that is worth having, useful, and which will have a real effect on our society.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  As one who has taken a particular interest in the progress of events in regard to women in our society I wish to make a short comment on this legislation. It is fair to say that the Fianna Fáil Party have concerned themselves with this area of endeavour and have supported at all times the type of legislation the Minister is introducing. Deputy Dowling, as Opposition spokesman on the Department of Labour, has said that he welcomes this Bill but has reservations about it. His reservations are shared by all Deputies on this side of the House. We feel, as has been pointed out by other Deputies, that the title to the Bill should read “Equal Pay Bill” or “Equal Pay (Women) Bill, 1974”. There should be some reference to equal pay in the title of the Bill.

We accept that by introducing equal pay for women an area of discrimination in society is being brought to a proper end. Nevertheless the use of the specific title, Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Bill, 1974, leads me to ask: does the Minister think there are other areas of discrimination yet to be dealt with in relation to women? Will there be other anti-discrimination Bills brought before this House with different words in brackets in the title? We believe the Minister should have been more specific in regard to the title of this Bill.

When the Bill was being given its first public airing through the media we had once more the performance by the publicists of the Coalition. The propagandists of the Coalition suggested that we would be given a Bill to end all Bills so far as the equality of women is concerned. What do we find? The Minister has come into the House with a Bill dealing with a very important area, but it is dealing with one specific area only. We were treated to a fortnight publicity campaign for this Bill, a campaign in the tradition of the Coalition. The Government [2111] propaganda services are excellent in this respect. I have no doubt they are doing a wonderful publicity job for the Coalition by suggesting that something is being done here or there, and that they intend introducing magnificent pieces of legislation. But when it comes to the crunch, when the legislation comes to the floor of the House, we find the Bill deals with only one particular area, that of equal pay for women. Undoubtedly it is an extremely important and basic provision undoubtedly, a provision which, as Deputy Dowling said, receives the support of Members on this side of the House. But this Coalition Government, who have suggested there are so many areas in our society where things are wrong, could have included more in relation to this matter of discrimination against the fair sex in our society.

The report on the status of women by the commission set up by the Fianna Fáil Government was sent to the Minister for Finance in December, 1972. This report incorporates the material included in the interim report on equal pay submitted in August, 1971, Therefore, there was all this brouhaha in relation to the production of this Bill although the matters on equal pay had been effectively dealt with and accepted by the previous Government arising out of the commission they had set up. Here we have the Coalition Government indulging in collective back-slapping of one another on this great achievement of theirs. I do not think they can credit themselves with a great achievement. It is a normal, natural progression that we should have an Equal Pay Bill before us. As we have said, it is about time it came to the House. Fianna Fáil, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity of bringing it to the House because they were defeated in the last election, but I have no doubt that had they succeeded in the last election they would have brought a Bill to the floor of this House far quicker than the present Administration, the Coalition groupings, have brought this Bill here.

Almost a year after they came into [2112] power they bring in an Equal Pay Bill to the House which is described as an Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Bill. We have already given our views on the matter of the Title of the Bill. I am not quite conversant with the rules of procedure in this House in relation to the matter of setting down an amendment to the Title of the Bill. I doubt if we can place an amendment to the Title of the Bill, but if it were possible to do so we would consider, I would imagine— again subject to what our spokesman, Deputy Dowling would say—an amendment setting out explicitly what the Bill means: Equal Pay (Women) Bill, 1974. That is what it means.

The Minister in his rather short speech has said:

Much remains to be done to eliminate unfair discrimination on the grounds of sex wherever possible and so help to change the prejudiced attitudes which give rise to it.

This is a clear admission by the Minister that he is not happy with the Bill, that it does not contain what he would like to have it contain. As the Minister says, in addition to equal pay, much remains to be done. It is of considerable concern to us on this side of the House that more is not included in the Bill, in view of what the Minister says in his opening statement. The second paragraph is very interesting:

It is our objective as an administration to allow women——

to allow women—very patronising, very decent of the Coalition Government

——to play a full part in the life of the State and to eliminate those barriers which prevent them from doing so.

Any women reading that sentence might say: “How dare they?” That the present Government should allow women to play a full part in the life of the State. The present Government have no entitlement to prevent women from playing a full part in the life of the State. Of course, women are [2113] entitled as of right to play their full part in the affairs of this country, as equal citizens, with the same opportunities as men have. Then the Minister goes on to say:

This major piece of legislation follows on a number of other measures which have been introduced by this Government. In this connection I might mention the removal of the marriage bar to employment in the Public Service...

That was a piece of Fianna Fáil legislation. This is pretence, a piece of fraudulence on the Government's part to suggest that these are original ideas, that this is original thinking on the part of the Government.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  This comes back to the point—the Deputy may not have been here when I dealt with it—of the pre-publicity which accompanies all pieces of legislation which have yet to find their way to this House. This piece of legislation was heralded by trumpeting by those who suffer from this “great men we are” syndrome in this Government. What do we find when it comes to the floor of the House?

Mr. Dunne: Information on Thomas Dunne  Zoom on Thomas Dunne  It was not announced at a Fianna Fáil dinner.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  It could have been announced at a Fine Gael or Labour dinner, but we have seen it in so many newspapers and on a number of occasions. However, this Bill deals with only one specific item in relation to the status of women in the society in which we live, the matter of equal pay. This is a piece of fraudulent propagandising by the Government that this was an original concept of this Government, the kind of fraudulent propagandising in which they are very well versed—their propagandising of themselves either individually or collectively.

Mr. Dunne: Information on Thomas Dunne  Zoom on Thomas Dunne  Nobody would know better than Fianna Fáil.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I am not, unhappily, [2114] a member of the Government, I would not like to be a member of that Government, naturally enough, by philosophical definition and otherwise —but it is important to stress this matter of the pre-publicity which accompanies any work, legislative or otherwise, which comes before us in this House.

As my colleague, Deputy Dowling, the spokesman for the Opposition on the Department of Labour, points out, the first Bill was introduced on the 3rd July, 1973. The Minister said he would circulate a similar type Bill on this topic during the recess. What did they do? They withdrew their proposed Bill on the 26th February, 1974. That is a piece of the gimmickry, the trick of the loopery, whatever you like to call it——

Mr. Dunne: Information on Thomas Dunne  Zoom on Thomas Dunne  The Deputy knows the names anyway.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  “Trick of the loopery” was coined by the Deputy's Parliamentary Secretary, the Chief Whip, Deputy Professor John Kelly; consequently we do not claim title to that expression; we give the Deputy's side credit for it.

There are a number of points relating to the Bill which are of concern to this side of the House. In section 5 (1) it is stated that “The Minister, after consultation with the Court and with the consent of the Minister for the Public Service, may appoint as equal pay officers of the Court, such and so many persons as he thinks fit and a person so appointed shall be known (and is in this Act referred to) as an equal pay officer.” In his reply which I know will be considerably longer and more explicit than a Second Reading speech, the Minister might tell us how these people will be appointed because there has been a tradition on that side of the House built up over the past year of a jobs-for-the-boys syndrome. How will these people be appointed? We urge the Minister to make it clear to the House that these people will be appointed through the normal process of the Civil Service Commission and that the Minister himself will not pick out, as has been [2115] traditional with himself and his colleagues, political pals and uplift them from his own or other constituencies.

Mr. Creed: Information on Donal Creed  Zoom on Donal Creed  The Deputy is talking about CIE now.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I shall talk about CIE at any time. I shall answer anything the Deputy may have to say in regard to that topic. If the Deputy had as good a record as the individual he refers to, he might have something to say about it.

Mr. Creed: Information on Donal Creed  Zoom on Donal Creed  I did not refer to any individual.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I know what the Deputy is thinking. It is written on his forehead; it is a glass forehead. In regard to the appointment of these equal pay officers I strongly urge the Minister to take the view that here he has an opportunity of making these appointments through an independent body rather than picking out pals and giving them the title of equal pay officers.

Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  There is no danger. The Deputy's imagination is running away with him.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  No, this does not arise in my imagination. It is a matter of fact, as the Minister knows, that individuals have been uplifted from his political organisation and placed in jobs—not to mention the reply I received to a question I put to the Minister for Justice last Thursday in regard to the appointment of peace commissioners. Since 1st April, 1973, over 425 peace commissioners were appointed by the present——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That is hardly relevant.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I know it is not but it is important to point out that this type of appointment is symptomatic of the jobs-for-the-boys syndrome from which the present Government are suffering. I would not mind but they pretend to the people of the country that they are not doing it, not appointing individuals whom I am sure are worthy in many respects—let [2116] me make that clear. To suggest they are not doing it when in fact they are is the real dishonesty.

Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  The Deputy is thinking of the previous regime.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  No. If the Minister turns to page 4 of this week's Hibernia he will see clearly set out a number of jobs for the supporters of the present Coalition Government. The Labour Party is away down the list. The Minister might take that into consideration when appointing these equal pay officers.

Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  I am surprised that the Deputy should rely on such references.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  Is the Minister making some point that I do not get? Has he a point to make?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  There should not be any references to officials at all. They should not be mentioned in such a manner as to be identifiable.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I did not make any reference to any official.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy is reflecting on officials.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I am not. Can the Chair point out where I reflected on officials?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  No reference to officials.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I never made any reference to officials.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Minister, as head, is responsible for his Department. There must be no reference to officials of the Department.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I shall not say what I am thinking but would the Chair point out where on one occasion I made reference to an official or officials.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy has mentioned officials——

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I have not mentioned officials good, bad or indifferent.

[2117]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  To what is the Deputy referring now?

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I am referring to the appointment of equal pay officers and to the fact that I believe they should be appointed through the Civil Service Commission. I think that is fair.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy referred to appointments already made. These are officials.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I referred to the appointment of——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair rules that they ought not be adverted to at all.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  No, I did not. The Chair is dealing with a different matter altogether. The Chair is suggesting that I am attacking officials. This is quite at variance with my practice in this House. That is a most unfair attack by the Chair on me. I should like to have the record straight in that respect. My reference to officials, if you could describe them as officials, was in regard to my question to the Minister for Justice in relation to the appointment of peace commissioners and I pointed out that since 1st April the present Government have appointed 425 peace commissioners. But in relation to an official or officials or a specific official, the Ceann Comhairle, I imagine, would have an obligation to point out where I made this attack and if he thinks I made an attack I should unreservedly and without qualification withdraw it. That is how strongly I feel about the suggestion that the Ceann Comhairle made about me.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair has adverted to the fact that the Deputy referred to officials who could be identified and has quoted a newspaper in that regard.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I have not a newspaper in front of me. I quoted for the benefit of the Minister a fortnightly magazine——

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  He referred to the method of appointment of personnel.

[2118]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair has ruled on the matter.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  That is a valid point in relation to the Bill.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  With no disrespect to the Chair, I do not think the Chair has ruled correctly in the matter, in view of my statement.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy may not challenge the ruling of the Chair. It is a well-established convention of this House that we do not reflect on officials in any way.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I did not reflect on officials.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Let us leave it so.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  No. I am certainly not going to be stifled or censured by the Chair in this regard. I am entitled to make a reference to the appointment of individuals to various bureaucratic positions. If they are appointed unfairly we in this House are entitled to point out that they are being appointed unfairly and incorrectly. That is why I make the point that having regard to the practice by the present Government in relation to a number of appointments in the recent past, since they came into office, I would ask that the Anti-Discrimination Bill and section 5 in particular should be operated fairly. That concerns the appointment of equal pay officers. It is my considered view that these people should be appointed through an independent body. I suggest, with great respect to the Chair and to the Minister, that they be appointed through the Civil Service Commission. Having dealt with that point and having put on record that at no time did I attempt to or indulge in the unfair and rather mean practice of attacking officials, let me say that my whole point was in regard to the method of appointment of officials. They are two distinct areas; even the Ceann Comhairle will concede that.

Under section 7 (3) a party to a dispute determined by the court under subsection (1) may appeal to the High [2119] Court on a point of law. While no doubt this is a proper provision the matter of costs has not been dealt with by the Minister. He might do so in his reply. Who pays the cost in regard to bringing the matter to court? Does the normal practice apply by which the losing party pays the cost? Is that the situation here under this section?

We welcome this Bill. Our attitude can be summed up in the budget speech by the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Colley, in 1972, when he said that the Government accepted in principle equal pay for women and affirm it as a national aim. Women have been unfairly discriminated against in this society for too long. This legislation will go part of the way— and we emphatically stress part of the way—towards eliminating these very serious areas of discrimination against what is euphemistically known as the weaker sex. Our view is that women as citizens of this nation are as entitled to equal recognition, equal opportunity and equal pay as men. I do not think that we as an almost all-male dominated political Assembly should be patting ourselves on the back because this legislation is coming into the House. It is a natural progression towards an awareness in society that women have equal status. It is a proper recognition.

Women, particularly in the area of employment, have been treated as second class citizens. This may have been for psychological reasons. Women get married after a short time in employment, have families, and their time then is occupied bringing up those families. When the families are reared and are going out into their own areas of employment, then the employer might take the view that on that basis continuity of employment of women—which they would look for from a male at any rate—is not there. Many women who have gone into a job and gained a very thorough knowledge of it, left, got married, reared a family but now find themselves at a loose end. It is unfair that a woman with such experience should not have the opportunity to go back to her original or similar place [2120] of employment. Under this legislation the experience of women will be recognised by equal pay for like work. As the then Minister for Finance said in his budget speech of 1972 this is a proper national aim.

It is interesting to reflect on the second class status of women throughout the aeons of history, and why they were considered to be the weaker sex. One can only put that down to an attitude of mind——

Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  The Deputy does not think that women are the weaker sex?

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  Quite the contrary. I am all for equality and recognition of women as equal citizens entitled to be given the same opportunities as men. We do not want to ask them to do physical work such as on building sites having regard to our natural and innate courtesy to them and the likelihood of their becoming physically injured. In the normal sense, the young girl works on the conveyor belt or is reading for a degree in social science or architecture. But can anybody in this House point out where women are not equal to and in some cases better than men?

In a number of countries women have been given a special recognition not because they are women but because they are equal, if not better than men and that is in the area of politics. We have Mrs. Golda Meir in Israel. India, one of the largest countries in the world, chose Mrs. Nehru as Prime Minister and Ceylon chose Mrs. Bandaranaike. This answers the Minister's question as to whether I consider women to be the weaker sex. I do not except in the area of an attitude of man to woman, man's basic courtesy to woman. One would hold the door open for a woman, one would offer a woman one's seat in the bus if it was full. One would go to the trouble of putting a woman's coat on her shoulder or stand up if a woman comes into male company. In that way the Minister might appreciate how my thoughts are developing. If an all-female company were sitting at a table in a room and a man walked in I would not [2121] expect that the women should stand up. In the reverse situation where men are sitting down and a lady walks in one would expect the men to stand us. This is a recognition of the special position of and the regard in which we in this society hold women.

I now come back to the question of women being given equal opportunities in the professions. Educationally the opportunity is there for women with proven ability. Women have distinguished themselves in science, art, literature et cetera. They have been given an educational opportunity to become social scientists, architects and doctors. Here is the crunch and it comes right through the Commission on the Status of Women which reported to the Minister for Finance, and it does not specifically relate to equal pay, it is on the matter of the reinduction of experienced women into areas of employment after marriage. Some women can, having regard to their circumstances, employ someone to look after their children during the course of the day but it is a tragedy that women who are specialists in their own field, be it a special knowledge of the work floor of a factory or a special knowledge of medicine, having completed their duties to their family do not immediately go back to their place of employment.

In this respect it is fair to say that society is all the less well off for their not going back and giving the benefit of their experience to society which, after all, did give them the education in the first instance.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  I listened with some interest to the contribution of Deputy Andrews and, quite frankly, I expected more. It seemed to me that he was articulating quite a lot of propaganda about such matters as propaganda and public relations and allegations of the activity of the present Government in the realm of publicity. I believe there has been too much carping about the title of this Bill. One could choose to call it the “Equal Pay Bill” or “Anti-Discrimination Bill” but, regardless, [2122] of what one might decide to title a Bill such as this, I do not think a discussion on the title is terribly relevant.

Deputy Andrews seemed to be concerned about what he deemed to be the publicists or the propagandists in the present Government. He seemed to talk about a good publicity job and he seemed to emphasise this question of public relations and the extent to which the Government are articulating their viewpoint and getting their viewpoint across to the general public. Frankly, it is a train of thought to which we have been much subjected in the last few months relative to many of the initiatives of the present Government. It is the type of thing that has been thrown up in many other areas of discussion, in the realm of industry, education, lands and agriculture.

By definition it is a fairly weak thing to say because it might be said by default at not having a great deal else to say. It might also be said from an inferiority point of view in the sense that one might be very conscious of the fact that the Government was very effective in the constructive use of public relations and in getting the message across to the people of this country through the organs for which it has responsibility and through the men it has in Government as Ministers of State in different areas. I do not see this as a reason for being critical of a Government.

It is possible, if we wish to become political about this issue, that the Government has been seen to do fairly well in this area possibly because of the fact that the Opposition has not been altogether as bright in this particular activity as the present Government. If as a Government we have been bright in that particular area it is more to our credit. Government is about communication, it is about articulating views, it is about getting the viewpoint of the Government across to the people of this country. At the only political contest that took place since the election of this Dáil it seemed that the people in that particular constituency were [2123] responsive to what the Government has done.

The Opposition, just as we are, are responsive to people and possibly the people will at some time in the future have the opportunity of passing judgment again. We will welcome that. Deputy Andrews referred to the fact that the Minister, in introducing this Bill, introduced it as merely one specific item and said that this was not good enough.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  The Deputy would be lost without the speech of Deputy Andrews.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  It is a useful talking point to introduce what I wish to say. In one breath Deputy Andrews talked about the fact that the Minister was only introducing one specific and in the next breath his principal complaint was that the Minister's speech of introduction was to short, a speech of introduction which ran to eight pages about a matter which Deputy Andrews deemed to be one specific item. It would seem to me that one cannot have one's cake and eat it; one has to settle for one approach or the other. That is by way of saying that there is not much criticism being offered against this Bill.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  As I was saying, the only objection in detail was on a legalistic point about the High Court situation where costs would be concerned, in the third area of appeal. It seems to me that when one gets down to the precise details, to the nuts and bolts, that is a tiny and fairly inconsequential criticism. I believe it was mischievous to talk about the question of the employment of the equal pay officers and to suggest that it was the intention of the Government to act in a partisan fashion in relation to such appointments. It was taken quite out of context and it is not relevant to this discussion. However, for the record, in the Industrial Relations Act, 1946, we read about [2124] employment of personnel within the Labour Court itself:

The Minister, after consultation with the Court and with the consent of the Minister for Finance, may appoint such officers and servants of the Court as he thinks necessary to assist the Court in the performance of its functions.

Conciliation officers have been appointed too, through this machinery.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  It is the Minister who appoints.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  Yes.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  Then my concern was well-founded because we have not got faith in the Government to appoint other than supporters of their own.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Andrews has already spoken.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  He is casting a slur on the Labour Court.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I am not. On the contrary, I have the greatest respect for the Labour Court.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Please, Deputy.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  The Government have undermined public confidence.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Andrews must desist from interrupting. He has already spoken.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  The Labour Court is an institution of great value and great respect.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I agree.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  The appointment of personnel who work in the Labour Court——

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I have no faith in appointments by the Minister.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  Is the Deputy suggesting that the Labour Court will get into the business of appointing people in a partisan sense?

[2125]Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I have the greatest faith in the Labour Court.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Could we have Deputy Staunton without interruption?

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  It is not in the national interest to raise contentious subjects.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  Is it not?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is the Chair talking to itself?

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  No, it is not.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I would hope not.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  I believe it was mischievous to raise this matter in this manner, especially when we are talking about anti-discrimination. It has been said that the Minister is merely introducing a specific point. The issue of equal pay is extremely important and it would seem to be wise to consider such an important subject in isolation so that the full import of what is happening is recognised by the public. The Minister said he recognises that this is merely one aspect of a particular problem. He said:

I must emphasise that this is a Bill to deal with equal pay. It is a necessary and important step along the road to eliminating discrimination but it covers only a limited though significant area of discrimination and does not in itself ensure equality of opportunity for women.

He also said:

This Bill is, therefore, the first of a series of anti-discrimination measures which I propose to bring before the Oireachtas as soon as possible...

He recognises the criticisms that have been made. His intention is incorporated in his speech. As a token of the Government's intent it is notable that, while the Commission on the Status of Women in their report recommended 1977 as the year for implementing equal pay, the Government [2126] have decided to arrange for its implementation in December, 1975, two years before the period recommended by the commission. This is an indication of the importance the Government are placing on this issue.

There will be certain problems which will have to be taken into account. The consequences will not entirely concern the Minister for Labour. He said:

While the implementation of equal pay will involve additional costs, I do not think that this problem must stand in our way.

I agree with him completely. It is fundamental. Every country in the EEC now has legislation in this area. Possibly the fact that we were relatively under-developed meant that up to this time our emphasis to a great extent was on economic legislation and policies and possibly to a letter extent than other European countries on the area of social policy. Obviously we are now catching up.

We will have a problem in the sense that additional costs will be involved. When this legislation takes effect it will create problems, and rightly so, throughout industry, throughout the economy, throughout the services, and in every area of employment in terms of cost. The Government will have to recognise this fact.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Are you for or against?

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  For or against what? I am for the Bill but I am pointing out certain matters to which attention will have to be paid.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  We were doubtful for a while.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  I am totally for the Bill. At the stage of its implementation it will add to the inflation we have been having and it will lead to certain rises in costs. The Government will have to have due regard for that fact so that an equitable situation runs right across the board. I re-echo the sentiments of the Deputies who welcomed the Bill and who saw it as a sign of substantial progress to which we can all contribute. I compliment the Minister.

[2127]Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  From studying the Minister's speech one gathers that he really did not have as much to say as one would have thought. Having regard to the length of time it has taken for this Bill to come before the House one would have thought he would have had considerably more to say. Let there be no mistake about this. Fianna Fáil have always been to the forefront for equal rights for women. This is indicated by the fact that in the 1972 national wage agreement in the Minister's speech at the time, a step was taken towards the implementation of equal pay for women. The Labour Party were not always in favour of equal pay for women and, in fact, created somewhat of a fuss at the suggestion that married women should engage in employment some years ago but that seems to be forgotten by them now.

I am sure the Minister has been waiting with great curiousity to hear what I have to quote at him. This shows how certain people change as the years go by because any time Fianna Fáil tried to take another step forward and give equal rights to women they were thwarted in their efforts.

Mr. O'Brien: Information on Fergus O'Brien  Zoom on Fergus O'Brien  Fianna Fáil could have brought in a Bill but they did not do so.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  In a paper called The Sunday Review the present Tánaiste had this to say on 20th September, 1959:

A barrage of questions is expected in the Dáil when it assembles. They will be fired at the Minister for Education on behalf of newly qualified jobless school teachers mainly from south eastern counties. They claim they are not able to find work because so many married women in the area have flocked back to teaching since the revocation of the ban on married women on July 1st, 1958. Lifting the ban, Mr. Lynch, Minister for Education, said: “This will [2128] make available for service 400 to 500 trained teachers together with the continuation of an increased training programme. It will mean that gradually all untrained teachers will be replaced by trained ones. Also it will be possible in time to improve the ratio of teachers to pupils”. His action was severely criticised by Mr. Brendan Corish, T.D. Labour, as a dangerous precedent which might spread to other women working in the State service. Mr. Corish advocated higher salaries as an incentive to teachers.

That was the attitude. When Fianna Fáil were looking after the interests of women they were opposed. Our policy is well known.

Mr. O'Brien: Information on Fergus O'Brien  Zoom on Fergus O'Brien  It certainly is.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  The Commission on the Status of Women was set up by Fianna Fáil. The proposals in it in the main are supported almost entirely by Fianna Fáil. We had in the past and we still have a high rate of unemployment. In those circumstances it was recognised that the breadwinner should get first preference. There is a fast developing situation now in which married women are having to go out to work because of economic necessity. Those of us who revere our Constitution, unlike many on the other side of the House, know that that Constitution lays it down that no woman should be forced to go out to work through economic necessity. That was the ideal we set ourselves in 1937. Unfortunately in this year, 1974, more and more women are being forced to go out to work through economic necessity.

As far as women in professions are concerned, there is no restriction that I am aware of on their entering any of the professions. There may be a bias in certain circumstances towards women, but this has no bearing on legislation because one cannot legislate for emotions. What the Minister is doing in this Bill is creating a situation in which an emotional bias may be created.

It is very important that the Minister [2129] should clarify certain sections of the Bill, particularly section 2 (2). Frankly this has me puzzled and I should like to have it clarified: “Nothing in this Act shall prevent an employer from paying to his employees where employed on like work in the same place of employment different rates of remuneration on grounds other than sex”. Will the Minister explain that when he comes to reply? I am sure he will have less difficulty in explaining it than I have in understanding it. It looks to me like the thin end of the wedge. In his opening speech he said women tended to be concentrated in the less skilled and lower paid jobs and were poorly represented in management and in the professions. Women are very well represented in management and in the are even a certain number of women dentists, not a very large number, but that is because dentistry is not a profession that attracts women.

I think it will be very difficult to decide as to what is discrimination and what is not. The Minister talks about training people to inquire into disputes. I believe this kind of thing will have to evolve through experience. I cannot see how training could help. There may have to be education on certain legal aspects, but not until the Bill has been in operation for some time will it be possible to garner the necessary experience.

I look forward to further legislation. There are many things with which I should like the Minister to deal. I should like him to tell us what further legislation he has in mind. The date is fixed for 31st December, 1975, two years ahead of its time. The foundation for this was actually laid in the 1972 wage agreement. It will be interesting to see how successfully this Government will be in getting a similar agreement. I hope the Government will be able to come in here soon and tell us they have achieved this.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Briscoe.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  We did not say 1977 [2130] at all; it was the Commission on the Status of Women.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Briscoe.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  I think that the report is excellent. I hope that the expectations by the various women interested in women's rights will be lived up to and that they will not be let down by all sorts of fair weather excuses—that the economy will not allow for it or something else. I can see there is a great need to implement many of the recommendations in this pamhplet.

In conclusion, I should like to remind the Minister and his colleagues in the Government that when they try to imply that Fianna Fáil were never as progressive as they in relation to the rights of women to bear in mind the quotation I have given of the Leader of the Labour Party in 1959.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Noel T. Lemass  Zoom on Noel T. Lemass  I am very happy to see this legislation introduced. Indeed, I am very happy to see any legislation being introduced by the present Administration because it has been very scarce in their first year of office.

In no circumstances would anybody on the Government benches be able to say that I was silent for 16 years in regard to legislation of this kind. Throughout several Fianna Fáil administrations and indeed during a period of one previous Coalition Government I raised this question on numerous occasions. If I can judge this Government by their record of performance so far, I would probably be far happier had this Bill been introduced by a Fianna Fáil Government; at least then we would know it would be put into effect.

I have not read the entire ministerial speech but, having read the Bill and explanatory memorandum, I should like to query the Minister and the Government as to whether or not the legislation before us has been fully thought out. I wonder, particularly in view of the date of [2131] the proposed implementation, whether women, as a sex and as part of the citizenship of this community, will gain as a result of the present apparent haste on behalf of the Minister and the Government. I can see they will gain in a few trades but there are others in which I do not foresee this happening at all. Indeed, I can see a situation evolving in which, unless the definition of equal pay for equal work or equal production or whatever may be the term used is clarified, women at present in employment may find themselves out of employment and replaced by their male counterparts. I remember when I left school, that was just after the war——

A Deputy:  Which war?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Noel T. Lemass  Zoom on Noel T. Lemass  The Deputy appears to want to be facetious. I am trying to be serious about this matter. My first position of employment was in my grandfather's shop, a retail hatters and outfitters, a drapery store in Capel Street. I moved from there to serve my time in the woollen and worsted industry in the Botany Weaving Mills in Cork Street. I remember that my managing director at that time was approached by social workers, I suppose, regarding some children who found themselves in difficulty with the law, who had gone to an industrial school and had been trained for a trade. These individuals were in the textile trade, in which I was serving my time. Two young lads were taken out of this industrial school and put on the looms, which were staffed entirely at that time by women. The productivity of these two 16 or 17 year olds was much greater than that of the women and they found themselves running the most advanced looms and weaving the most expensive cloth produced by that particular textile mill. I understand that through the slow process of redundancies, created by people who had retired, died and so on, the general manager of that mill decided to replace those women by men because of the greater productivity of the men. This is a matter which needs a great deal of thought and consideration before we give an out-of-hand approval [2132] to the Bill before us.

While I am happy that the Minister believes he can fulfil the wishes of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions by bringing forward the implementation date by two years, I am not entirely happy that he has fully considered the various diverse consequences which might arise by bringing this legislation fully into force within such a short period.

There are some questions I should like to pose to the Minister. As I have said, I have not had an opportunity to read the full text of the Minister's speech. Perhaps the point I am about to make has been dealt with in it and if so I will not pursue the point any further. What is very important for all of us to know is what proposals the Minister has in mind to expand the Labour Court, not just in numbers but with people who are technically proficient, a staff who can really assess the value of equal work or equal production. In England, where the same principles are at present incorporated in their legislation, this question of equal pay for work of equal value has been a sore point over the years. I do not think that even after their years of experience they have come up with the final solution of definition. Again, I question the date of 1975 mentioned in the Bill. Have we available in this country the technical staff that should be added to the Labour Court in order adequately to assess this definition? This definition is probably a lovely catch cry—it is a good thing to get across to the masses. But what we must do here is sit down and think very very carefully as to how best we can implement the theory and principle of non-discrimination against people regardless of their sex, colour or creed. Since the establishment of this State if any of these categories have not got justice from successive Irish Governments I believe that category has been women and in particular working women.

Income tax is not the subject matter of this Bill. In case I am asked what I did over the last 16 years I wish to say that I held up a former Minister for Finance in this House for a considerable time on this point. That Minister was a brother in-law. I delayed [2133] him discussing the tax imposed on working wives. I assume this matter is proper to a discussion on the financial proposals of the budget. Nevertheless, it is discrimination. Any form of discrimination either in this House or elsewhere will encourage me to express my personal convictions. I know that will not worry the Minister or members of the United Nations. But it is the solemn duty of any of us who feel strongly on this point to express our views as clearly and precisely as we can.

I am aware that certain trade unions are hostile to the employment of women. For example the union representing the barmen is hostile to the employment of women in bars. The ITGWU represent workers in hotel bars and they do not share that point of view. Speaking with some members of the union representing the barmen I have found that they are of the opinion that the fact that our licensed premises are staffed entirely by males has resulted in our public houses being the most efficient and the most well-run in the world. If this trade union rule is found to be discriminatory when we go to our local lounges we will find long-legged girls in mini-skirts and we will also pay an extra 5p for the drink just to have a look at them.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  Do you not want to look at them?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Noel T. Lemass  Zoom on Noel T. Lemass  Deputy Coogan is the best Deputy to sleep discreetly in the House. I wish he would return to that situation.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Lemass: Information on Noel T. Lemass  Zoom on Noel T. Lemass  I am trying to deal seriously with this question.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  Not seriously when you were talking about long-legged women.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  You wanted to electrocute the tinkers.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Lemass on the Bill, please.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Noel T. Lemass  Zoom on Noel T. Lemass  While approving of [2134] the general principle of the Bill I would ask the Minister whether he is wise in bringing forward the date to 1975. If we proceed with this haste I would ask whether in certain trades and employments women would be the sufferers instead of the beneficiaries under this Bill.

Since first elected in 1956 I have been persistent in promoting the interests of non-discrimination against women and against anybody, regardless of class, creed or sex. I agree that that is repetition. I have been addressing Deputy Coogan and the Minister until now. I should like to ask the Minister whether he has done sufficient research and investigation to ensure that industry as a whole can implement the Bill within the period laid down without the risk of creating unemployment for men as well as women. I have read the comments of representatives of Irish industry in the Federated Union of Employers. They are apparently quite worried as to whether they can absorb the costs involved. What sort of research has the Minister done? Is he satisfied that the competitive position of Irish industry will not be challenged or put at risk as a result of his obvious desire to meet the wishes of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions?

At one time I was spokesman in this House on the back benches for the Women Workers Union and I hope to be favoured with their confidence again in the future. While I am most anxious not to be misinterpreted in any way in what I am saying—I welcome the Bill—I just want an assurance from the Minister that all the possible consequences of this Bill have been fully thought out. For instance, section 6 says that, in the event of a dispute, the Minister may find himself as a final judge. I should like to know if the Minister has decided to take this responsibility upon himself while his colleague, the Minister for Local Government, is removing from himself this type of responsibility which, in my view, is undesirable. I do not think that in matters of this sort any individual Minister can be the final judge because the person who occupies that [2135] seat will change from time to time— and the way things are going there will probably be a change very shortly. However, no matter what Minister occupies that seat when the equal pay officer has investigated the case and conveyed his recommendation to the parties concerned and, where appropriate to the Minister, as I read this Bill, if agreement is not reached at this level the Minister has the final say at arbitration. That is a dangerous thing. I hope our spokesman for the Department of Labour will consider putting down an amendment in relation to this section. The women about whom the Minister expresses concern, and indeed the men who might be involved as well, should have the protection of a body of people, not just the Minister on his own. I am a little nervous about this section, and I should like the Minister to explain why this responsibility should be placed on him. There is a court of appeal from the Minister:

A party to a dispute determined by the Labour Court may appeal to the High Court on a point of law.

That is all very fine, but the Minister for Justice, in reply to a question of mine today, told us that the £50,000 which we in this party as an Opposition agreed to and which was provided in the last budget for free legal aid, had not been paid, and held out a threat that it would not be paid unless we passed the Supplementary Estimate which is at present before the House and will not be dealt with, I would imagine, until next Thursday.

If the Minister, in his wisdom, makes an adjudication and there is an appeal to the High Court who will pay for this? Is the State going to pay for it or will the individual take the risk of losing some thousands of pounds in making an appeal against the Minister's decision which is thought to be unwise. It is not determined whether the Minister's decision was wise or unwise. The point is that the only form of appeal from the Minister's decision is an appeal to the High Court on a point of law and, if [2136] that is lost, I suppose to the Supreme Court. Like the leader of a certain party not represented here these people may find themselves in financial difficulties because they cannot meet their responsibilities. That is the end of their employment opportunities and their way of life for the rest of their lives.

I would seriously appeal to the Minister to have another look at sections 6 and 7. While the intention is excellent, the Bill is not as well thought out as I would like it to have been. Perhaps he could satisfy me in his reply and I can withdraw these objections. The one thing I am concerned about is that, if this Bill passes the House—and I think it will; on the general concept of the Bill I do not think we have any objection on this side of the House—there are the nitty gritty pieces that will have to be worked out on the Committee Stage. I am making this contribution now so that the Minister may consider the points I am making with a view to either explaining the provisions in the Bill if I have misunderstood them or agreeing to amend them if I have understood them correctly.

There are many concepts throughout the world on the idea of equal pay for equal work. There are many concepts of what equal work is and on the productivity levels of various workers. This can occur in a factory that entirely employs male workers where one worker can produce more than another. I came across a case about 12 years ago where I helped to get an unemployed man a job in a private industry constructing wooden boxes. This man constructed at least 50 per cent more wooden boxes than any of the trained workers who were there before him. The employer was threatened with strike action and was told to fire this man because he was embarrassing the rest of them by forcing them to bring up their productivity. In the end the same worker just cut down on his production, and that idea is not in the best interest of the nation.

We have been very fortunate in this country that the worst elements of massive trade union opposition to [2137] Government policies have not appeared here. In recent times we have seen this sort of thing taking place in England. What we want to get is a clear concept of what equal pay is and what equivalent levels of work may be. This question has been taken up time and time again in other countries not only in Europe but in the United States, Australia and Canada, and there is no clear definition yet. If the Minister for Labour can define these matters clearly—with the help of his advisers, of course—then I would be the first to stand up in this House and congratulate him on doing a job that so many others found impossible.

There are many different attitudes to this concept of equal pay. This is a human thing. For instance, I was talking about the situation in England and about the power of the trade unions and their concepts of equal pay. Probably the situation that has arisen in England is due to the fact that they were the first industrial exporting nation in the world. There is no doubt that every worker in industry in England at the time of the Industrial Revolution was exploited. I believe male as well as female workers are exploited now in this country. The deep tradition of exploitation began well over 100 years ago—perhaps 200 years ago—grew in the minds of the English workers and was handed down from generation to generation, as our concept of freedom has been handed down here. There is still in this country a little anti-boss attitude handed down from the time when it was patriotic not to be cooperative with the employer of 100 years ago.

Our great problem is to determine how we can expand the Labour Court with technical staff who can evaluate what is equal pay in real terms. This problem has been examined in many other countries without very much success. We need somebody to do some form of job evaluation. I think AnCO are engaged in this work and perhaps the Minister can use the services of those who are now trained in this field in trying to give effect to [2138] the Bill now before us. There is no point in passing a Bill unless it is given full effect. We are only exchanging words here unless we are sure the legislation we pass will be given full effect.

We must also consider the causes of unequal pay. When we achieved independence any industry worth talking about—except perhaps a little in Dublin—was located around Belfast. There was great poverty. Very few children had a pair of shoes going to school. I am glad to see Deputy Dockrell here because his father would remember this. I believe one of the reasons the Deputy is in the House is because of the great humanity shown by his family to Dublin workers at that time. We had a situation where there was an employers' market. People took employment “for buttons”, as the expression goes. The tradition of working for less than a fair wage grew up but fortunately, the trade union movement also grew up and great advances were made in our social services. The situation has now been reached when people will not starve, although they may nearly do so with the social services that are available.

This unequal pay situation has an historic basis handed on to us by British masters when we accepted gratefully anything we could get for many years. I agree that this Bill is timely and with its introduction we should get away from that old tradition that has so long persisted here. To get away from 50 years of tradition is something I am not sure we should try to do in less than two years. I believe in this Bill's final objective but I think the Minister is rushing into it a little too quickly in order to satisfy his former trade union colleagues.

I have mentioned the difficulty in certain trades in which women are now employed. If the equal pay concept is fully operated these women will find themselves replaced by men. I do not think that problem has been properly evaluated in drafting this Bill. Perhaps in certain trades men will be replaced by women but that is far less likely than women being [2139] replaced by men. We have this two-edged sword in our hands. Especially on the Committee Stage we should consider this important point, that in some cases women may be at a disadvantage.

As the Minister said, much remains to be done to eliminate unfair discrimination on grounds of sex wherever possible and to help to change the prejudicial attitudes which give rise to it. That is what I have been talking about. These prejudices have built up over the years. Middle-aged and elderly women are very slow to accept any change. We now have a generation of younger women who want to involve themselves in every aspect of national life and Government. Yet, there have not been sufficient women to elect more than three women Deputies. That is regrettable.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  We cannot debate that on this Bill.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Noel T. Lemass  Zoom on Noel T. Lemass  It is discrimination.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Not in pay.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Noel T. Lemass  Zoom on Noel T. Lemass  As the Minister said, the time has come to allow women to play a full part in the life of the State and to eliminate those barriers which prevent them from doing so. I ask the Minister to consider seriously the points I have made. Some of the discrimination accepted by the vast majority of women has been brought about by history and tradition. I am glad this legislation is being introduced If the Minister will seriously consider the further Stages the Bill can be greatly improved.

Mr. Callanan: Information on John Callanan  Zoom on John Callanan  Everybody welcomes the Bill but I think we are a bit hypocritical about the opposite sex. We can pass a measure for equal pay for equal work but the whole point is what will the employer regard as equal work? Down the years the opposite sex were supposed to be the tender sex and were not supposed to do the type of work, or as much work, as a man. In fact, a man was expected to support his wife when he married her; there [2140] was no question of her working at all. There are some men who expect their wives to support them.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  So much the better.

Mr. Callanan: Information on John Callanan  Zoom on John Callanan  I could not agree more, providing the wife will do it. If the minds of the employers are not cushioned the whole thing could backfire. The interpretation of how well the job is done is important, and will remain in the minds of the employers. Their attitude will not change no matter what Bill is passed. If an employer thinks a male will do the job better, and he can get him for the same salary as a female, he cannot be ordered to employ female staff. Is there a danger that in the long run this may react against the employment of females?

I sounded a word of warning when we were passing the Bill removing the marriage bar. Everybody agrees that married women should be allowed work. There are a number of young girls with leaving certificates who are hostile to that idea. I realise that this is irrelevant to the debate but I am merely pointing out that women change their minds. If this backfires, and I hope it will not, there will be a danger that the young ladies looking for jobs will find that they are in competition with men. As the salary is the same, men may often get preference.

If a Government is appointing a board of directors will a Minister choose a lady and nominate her to the board? This is a situation we must face. Women should be placed in key positions if they are to be on equal terms with men. They have not been. That is a fact of life. Even in a family the head of the house is a man.

We do not face the facts of life. We pass this Bill because it is a popular thing to do. But how will it work in practice? In theory it is the ideal situation but one must be practical. Deputy Lemass spelled this out clearly. Will the trade unions accept this? I hope they will. I will be sad if women were to lose employment because they had to get equal pay for equal work. As I said, this is an interpretation of how well the job is [2141] done. An arbitrator will decide on equal pay for equal work. But I can claim that an employee who is not getting equal pay is not entitled to the extra money because the job, while appearing to be the same as another, in fact is not. I do not envy the arbitrator his job. This may not be so but I can claim it to be so if I prefer male employees. That is why I am worried about this Bill but, as I have said, the interpretation of equal work is the most important point. I agree with this Bill wholeheartedly. Are the minds of the people cushioned to accept that women can do an equal amount of work as a man?

I want to make it clear that I would prefer a female secretary to a male secretary any day. Would a hardheaded businessman employ a female if a male would do the same work for the same pay?

Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  I believe he would.

Mr. Callanan: Information on John Callanan  Zoom on John Callanan  I hope so. The businessman's main idea is production. So far as directors are concerned production means money. If they think male employees are more likely to increase production I do not think any Bill will convince them that they should employ females.

Women were complaining when there was a marriage bar. Some are now complaining that they cannot get jobs. The danger is that if this measure backfires the younger generation will be complaining that they cannot get jobs. Nobody will lose employment because of this Bill. Is there a danger that where people employed females previously they will now employ males? As I said, I do not envy the Minister his task as arbitrator. Equal pay is easy to decide but equal work is a different matter.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

Mr. Callanan: Information on John Callanan  Zoom on John Callanan  We all agree with the principles of the Bill but I see difficulty in putting the Bill into practice. I accept that women can do equal [2142] work but the point is that down through the years women have not been involved in industry or otherwise. Even at the marriage ceremony the man is made superior; the woman undertakes to love honour and obey.

The Minister has to face many big problems in this regard and he has my sympathy when it comes to arbitrating on them. A lot of women have been employed in offices as clerks because the employer could pay them less than a male clerk. That was morally wrong. While we can make the laws here which will ensure that this does not happen again it is those who are employing people who will have to implement the laws.

I should like the Minister to inform the House who will pay the costs if there is a court case arising out of a breach of this piece of legislation. A person could be finished for all time if they had to pay the costs of such a case. This legislation is a fine thing in principle and it is nice to hear people say that everybody should be treated equally but how is such a piece of legislation to be implemented? Had the Minister taken more time on the preparation of this Bill it is possible he would have done a better job. He has informed me that the business people will “cop on” and agree with this piece of legislation but he must take into consideration that an employer will take on the people, male or female, he considers best to run his business. In my view no piece of legislation can compel any employer to employ male or female.

In this regard we should set an example in appointing females to State boards and giving them responsibility. The Government should set an example by appointing females if they feel they are able to do a particular job as well as a male. For instance has a female judge been appointed in this country? The fact that we have only three lady Deputies as Members of this House is the fault of the people who elect us but how many females have we in prominent positions on State boards or on the boards of directors of private companies?

We will have to change the whole [2143] attitude towards women in the community and this is a tough job. Down through the years it was accepted that women were not inferior but superior and were to be treated as such and were not to be asked to work. No matter what they say about Women's Lib today the older generation looked up to the opposite sex as people who should be looked up to and should not be asked to work.

The Minister in making appointments instead of giving “jobs to the boys” should give “jobs to the girls”. Unless females are appointed to senior positions by the Government the private employer can accuse the Government of being hypocritical in this regard. We should not ask business people to do something we do not do ourselves. The Minister, in his reply, should give some indication of the attitude of the Government to appointments of females in the future.

I do not wish to be misinterpreted in this regard because I am for equal pay for equal work but I have endeavoured to point out the dangers that may [2144] arise following the adopting of this piece of legislation. Why have we not some female peace commissioners? Such appointments would show the community as a whole that we think females are important enough to make decisions and to enforce justice.

The trade unions could also give a lead in this regard. There are certain trade unions who would not like to see females getting equal pay but I presume that the Minister has prevailed upon these unions to accept the contents of this Bill. We should show that we are sincere by appointing females to the Judiciary and to State boards. One danger I see is that too many men will become dependent on women and will want them to go to work in order to support them. I should not like to see that happen because it is a man's job to provide for the household.

Debate adjourned.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 6th March, 1974.


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