Wednesday, 26 May 1976
Dáil Eireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £14,931,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1976, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Labour including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain grants-in-aid.
The Government's strategy for 1976 is to give priority to expenditure that would promote growth and sustain and increase employment. Increased resources have been allocated for capital expenditure to provide a stimulus to domestic demand and output in the short term and to produce an environment and infrastructure more conductive to growth and job creation in the long term. The 1976 capital programme has been settled at almost £600 million which is 28 per cent above expenditure in 1975. Nearly half of the overall increase has been allocated to investment in industry which shows an increase of £64 million, or 71 per cent over expenditure in 1975.
The State's commitment to assist the forces of recovery in our economy is spelled out in the size of the public capital programme. This investment in jobs, if allowed to work through the economy, will return many now out of work back to productive employment.
A significant proportion of the public expenditure in the current year which comes under the control of the Department of Labour is aimed at ensuring that those who are without jobs as a result of the present recession are given the opportunity during the period of unemployment to increase the range of their skills. I would refer in particular to the substantial increase in resources for industrial training. Approximately £14 million  will be spent in 1976 on the provision of industrial training courses.
In manpower training I have repeatedly spelled out the policy I have pursued through the current recession. I believe that during a spell of high unemployment, such as we have been experiencing, our training facilities must be expanded.
My objective has been to arrive as quickly as possible at the point where any unemployed person could avail of a training course whilst unemployed. The increase in expenditure over the past three years from just over £2 million in 1972-73 to approximately £14 million in 1976 is designed to meet this objective.
Over 11,000 men and women will be enabled to follow courses of welding, engineering, electronic assembly, radio/tv servicing, machine tool operation, junior management, etc. in the 16 centres throughout the country. In addition, of course, company based training schemes will continue and the provision of technical assistance grants for training by outside bodies will continue to be available from the training authority. This figure of 11,000 means that we are providing training and retraining facilities for 1 per cent of the entire labour force in 1976. I would point out to the House that as late as 1974 this 1 per cent target was set for realisation in the year 1978 but I was determined as the recession deepened to bring this date forward by arranging for the funding requirements that would make this possible.
On the matter of employment, the Government's general approach has been based on use of the budget as an instrument to expansion and, as explained, the Government gave priority to expenditure that would promote growth and thus sustain employment. The allocation of resources between current expenditure and capital expenditure was devised in such a way as to limit current expenditure where it does not increase substantially economic activity. This has allowed us to increase the resources available for capital expenditure and should in the short term provide a stimulus to domestic  demand and domestic output. Thus an environment and infrastructure more conducive to growth and job expansion will be created.
Nearly half of the overall increase in the capital budget was allocated to investment in industry. When account is taken of the expenditure proposed for construction in the whole public capital programme, the total provision affecting the building and construction industry alone is £325 million; an increase of £45 million over last year.
The Industrial Development Authority, which is the major State jobcreation agency, continues to make valiant efforts to maintain foreign investment in our industrial effort. An additional £16 million was provided to enable the IDA to continue their important work over the present difficult period.
At this stage in the recession, it may be stated that unemployment is now the major social evil in every EEC country, and Ireland is no exception. All of the State agencies concerned with employment, the Industrial Development Authority, Córas Tráchtála, and the training authority for which I have statutory responsibility to the Dáil, are working to targets designed to offset the unemployment effects of the recession.
In addition to the work of these statutorily established State agencies, the Oireachtas recently passed the provisions of the premium employment programme. This programme is designed to assist an early return to work of those whose industries have been particularly affected during the present recession. The State will assist by subsidy an employer who adds an unemployed worker to his existing work force after 20th June, 1975. All industry has, of course, suffered in the present recession but textiles, footwear and engineering have been most grievously affected. I am anxious that employers in these industries in particular should avail themselves of the provisions of the premium employment programme in an effort to return to work the thousands of workers who have become unemployed in these three industries alone.
 The more our people are enabled to return to gainful employment, the faster the recovery will occur in our home economy. There are at present factories and plants around the country where expensive machines stand idle. As long as these machines are idle, our productive capacity is diminished. The investment in these machines and factories, often supported by State subsidy, is lost as long as these factories remain idle.
So far over 4,500 of the unemployed have been restored to gainful employment with the aid of the premium employment programme. Whilst this figure does not satisfy me, I do accept that the programme depends for effectiveness on the co-operation of employers and on their expectation on the level of demand in the home and export markets.
As already announced, I have been reviewing all aspects of the programme's operation. I have now completed that review and I wish to inform the House that the period of operation of the premium employment programme, which was due to end next month, will be continued to the end of the year at increased rates. The House will recall that the programme provides weekly payments to employers who take on additional workers from the register of unemployed workers. Under the existing arrangements, the subsidy per each additional worker is £12 per week. This will now be increased to £15 per week.
With the co-operation of employers, thousands of people can be returned to gainful employment by means of the terms of the new extended premium employment programme. Those charged with manpower planning in Irish industry will, I hope, appreciate that the economics of manpower planning are changed in the context of the renewed premium employment programme. I would ask all personnel managers and production planners to consider seriously the advantages which lie in the premium employment programme. I have directed all manpower offices throughout the country to contact local employers to examine afresh the steps by which the premium  employment programme may, at the new rates, with co-operation from employers, succeed in reducing local unemployment. Trades councils and chambers of commerce may assist by informing their affiliated members and organisations of the advantages of the premium employment programme. Whilst I am especially anxious that the premium should be availed of by those industries most seriously affected by the recession— textiles, footwear and engineering— the programme can also assist such relatively new industries as pharmaceuticals, electronics and petro-chemical activities which are still in their growth stages.
By providing an incentive to employers to increase their work force now—ahead of requirements—we can be better placed to expand production quickly and meet the all important delivery dates. There is some evidence that the level of stocks in some of our industries has now been reduced to a level consistent with the slowdown in overall demand. We should not allow this situation to persist for so long that we are unable to meet the initial surge of demand which will surely come.
The premium employment programme will make it easier for the employee to get a job again and for the employer to offer the employment. For the employer who is delaying taking on workers until he sees positive signs of upturn the programme, by reducing the cost of taking on new workers, gives him a substantial inducement to do so now. In previous recessions here, unemployment has lasted longer than necessary because employers traditionally have met improvements in demand after recession by increasing the overtime available to existing staff without taking on new workers. The programme will enable the employers to take on workers now in anticipation of the improvement already evident in certain of the major economies.
I will shortly be introducing legislation to extend and increase the payment of this employment premium. While our major economic objective  must consist in the reduction of the level of unemployment, the programme of industrial law reform must be continued. Since March, 1973, the Department of Labour has engaged in a full review of the laws relating to industrial relations, trade unions, collective and individual rights and discrimination. This has been the first comprehensive review of these laws for many years. The objective of this review has been to update the law where that was necessary; to facilitate developments in collective bargaining; to extend basic rights and protections to workers; and to end discriminatory employment practices.
Some of the results of that review are already on the Statute Book. Others are before the Oireachtas and others again are at an advanced stage of preparation and will be introduced in the Dáil shortly.
The Trade Union Act, 1975, came into force earlier this year. Previously legislation on amalgamations was contained in a number of pre-1920 Acts which were clearly inappropriate to modern conditions. The onerous voting requirements of previous legislation have been replaced. In future a simple majority of those voting in favour will be sufficient to allow an amalgamation or transfer of engagements to take place. The new procedures are operated through the Registrar of Friendly Societies who will safeguard the interests of individual members. There is also provision for grants of money to trade unions to allay the cost of operating the procedure. The objective of the legislation is to facilitate amalgamations so that trade unions can provide a more efficient service to their members.
In the area of women's rights the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974, will shortly be complemented by the Anti-Discrimination (Employment) Bill, 1975. The major objective of this Bill is to eliminate certain practices which impede the progress of women and tend to restrict them to the less skilled and poorly paid jobs. It will make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sex or marriage as regards access to employment, training in preparation for and during  employment, promotion and working conditions. It is proposed to establish an agency which will investigate practices that appear to be discriminatory. If such practices are found to be unlawful, the agency will use its enforcement powers to eliminate them. The agency will launch a comprehensive programme of information about rights under the anti-discrimination legislation and any other matters affecting the status of women.
The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Bill must still go through the remaining Stages in the Oireachtas. The Bill will increase the minimum age of entry to employment; regulate maximum and normal working hours; and provide enforcement and inspection procedures for young workers.
The Industrial Relations Bill, 1975, represents another significant legislative measure for the improvement of the general conditions of farm workers. It replaced the Agricultural Wages Board, established in 1936, by a Joint Labour Committee which will permit farmers and farm workers to determine jointly the future conditions of employment in this important industry. About 34,000 workers will be covered. The operation of the Joint Labour Committee should lead to the elimination of the differences that have been allowed to develop over the years resulting in a growing gap between the work conditions of the farm workers and those of other industrial employees.
There has been a great deal of discussion over the past ten years on the principles of worker participation but no concrete action has been taken. Detailed discussions have taken place on proposals put forward last July and a Bill will shortly be introduced to allow the election of employee directors to the boards of seven State enterprises employing about 50,000 workers. The experience of a functioning participation system in our economic life should enable us to contribute to the development of an authentic reorganisation of work consonant with our democratic tradition.
The programme of extending workers' rights by legislative means  must keep pace with the extension of those rights through collective bargaining. A number of further measures which are under preparation deal with individual and collective rights at the work place.
A very large number of unnecessary industrial disputes resulting in strikes are caused each year because of unfair dismissals. Probably a greater number of workers are dismissed arbitrarily in unorganised employments and have no come-back at their employers. This is an area of serious social and economic injustice allowed to continue because there are at present no legal redresses for the victims. A Bill is currently being drafted. The legislation will set down criteria for fair and unfair dismissals, procedures for investigation and adjudication of disputes and the remedies including compensation and reinstatement. This legislation will be a charter of the individual's right to security in employment.
Too frequently worker rights in redundancy situations are ignored or insufficiently considered. Legislation is being prepared which will require employers to give longer notice in the event of large scale redundancy. It will also provide that trade unions will have a statutory right to examine the necessity for such redundancies and to propose alternative solutions to redundancy situations. Proposals are also being prepared on the protection of the rights of workers in mergers and takeovers.
There has been no basic change in legislation relating to safety and health in industry since 1955. New legislation is being prepared which will modernise procedures and ensure workers a greater and more effective voice in improving the safety of the workplace. Special legislation is also being prepared to cope with the safety aspects of offshore gas and oil installations.
The programme of legislative reform that has been undertaken and is in process is wide ranging. All areas of existing legislation have been rigorously and critically examined and, where necessary improved. In addition, new areas have been opened  up such as anti-discrimination and worker participation.
In addition to legislative reform, other activities of the Department's work have been intensified. For example, the general inspection of minimum rates of pay and conditions of employment has been stepped up and prosecutions against offending employers have been instituted.
In more detail under industrial training the Exchequer grant towards AnCO's training activities during 1976 is £8.5 million for current expenditure compared with £5 million in 1975. With matching grants from the ESF, AnCO expects to have about £14 million at its disposal which will enable it to train approximately 10,000 persons in its training centres this year. In addition, it is hoped to train 1,000 workers in 1976 by hiring facilities in private industry, also. This figure represents almost 1 per cent of the labour force, a target originally set by AnCO for 1978 but brought forward in the light of the present recession. AnCO are also receiving £1.55 million towards capital expenditure as against £1 million in 1975.
AnCO has set up nine permanent and seven temporary training centres as well as several mobile training units throughout the country. These mobile training units, which have now visited more than 30 towns, are designed to bring training for short periods to areas which are remote from training centres. The courses given by these units last from four to eight weeks and accommodate between 12 and 24 trainees at a time. The range of 45 different courses provided by AnCO for adults is being expanded to meet the needs of industry and to provide trainees with the maximum opportunity for local employment.
When talking about AnCO, I thought it might prove of interest to Deputies to refer to the new apprenticeship regulations which will come into operation in September. The implementation will be phased in gradually over a period of five years. I am confident that it will ensure better training and education for all apprentices and that the skilled manpower  needs of the economy will be better catered for.
This new system, which at full capacity will have an annual intake of over 3,000, will mean a period of full-time training in a recognised training centre for all apprentices during their first year and a reduction in the apprenticeship period from five years to four. For those with leaving certificate or equivalent qualification, there will be a further one year reduction. The full-time training for all first-year apprentices will be at approved centres provided by industry, the training authority, or the vocational education committees. In addition, apprentices will be obliged to attend courses in trade theory and general education at vocational colleges during the first three years of their apprenticeships. There will be compulsory testing leading to the award of a national craft certificate on completion of training.
Employers who set up their own apprentice training centres will receive a grant towards the cost of equipping them. The wages of apprentices under the new system will be paid by industry for those who are being trained to meet its own needs. However, firms in the levy-grant scheme may be allowed grants for full-time apprentice training. The State will pay the wages of apprentices being trained for new industries. The State will also bear capital and other operating costs.
I believe that the training of young entrants to the work force must be seen as a priority area and of special national importance at the present time. The need for improved training for young people is based on the increasing need for skill and adaptability in employment, the inequity of opportunities being missed by young people because of where they live or the state of the economy when they start work and the importance of initial training and job experiences in past attitudes to work.
(1) Apprentices will do a period of off-the-job training in their  first year of apprenticeship in approved apprentice training centres. These centres will be provided in AnCO training centres, within industry or within the educational sector where industrial conditions will be simulated. Apprentices will also during the first three years of apprenticeship attend courses of instruction each year in vocational schools and technical colleges for at least the equivalent of a day a week for 36 weeks.
(3) There will be a representative curriculum advisory committee which will oversee the provision of curricula for apprentice training and education and there will also be compulsory testing and certification.
(7) Places are being made available in 1975-76 in the training centres for qualified girls who may wish to take up apprenticeships and already a number of girls are undergoing apprentice courses in AnCO centres in three trades which up to now have been dominated by men.
A special programme was started in 1974 to train redundant and unemployed apprentices. From the beginning of 1975 to date AnCO has provided training for about 440 redundant  apprentices, the majority of whom were employed in the construction and engineering industries.
On the question of the company based training which has been the subject of some controversy of late, I would like to say that there are levy grant schemes operating now in seven sectors of industry. Firms above a certain size pay a levy of between 1 per cent and 1.25 per cent of their total annual payroll into a special fund, from which they may regain up to 90 per cent of what they have paid, in grants for appointing training personnel, identifying training needs and implementing programmes to meet these needs.
Experience to date shows that the levy grant system has been responsible for stimulating worthwhile training in industry. Despite the present economic recession, indications are that companies have not restricted their training programmes. Payment of levy has been satisfactory, with the exception of the construction industry which has special problems because of the very large number of small firms.
While levy grant should continue in its present form until the training function has been accepted and firmly established in industry at large, AnCO is developing a system to rate the quality and quantity of company training. The system is being introduced at present in a number of designated industries on a voluntary trial basis to test its feasibility for general application. AnCO has more than 100 training advisers who assist companies in devising and implementing training to meet their needs. The future role of this service will concentrate less on the promotional aspects of training and levy/grant and more on indepth training assistance, review of training progress and recommendations of new and improved methods of training.
Instructor training courses, varying in length from a few days to three weeks, are conducted by AnCO mainly at the Dublin training centre but also in other parts of the country and within companies as required. To date 3,644 instructors have, in fact, been trained.
 AnCO administers a technical assistance grants scheme to encourage the attendance of managers, supervisors and trade union officials at appropriate training courses. Grants of up to 50 per cent of the cost of attendance at approved courses are available to firms in the manufacturing and distribution industries. In 1975 assistance was given to over 7,000 participants on courses and grants totalling £292,131 were paid.
Whilst the support of my Government colleagues ensured that the necessary funds were forthcoming from the Exchequer for the training expansion which has taken place, full utilisation of grants from the European Social Fund also assisted in the rate of expansion which has been achieved.
In regard to CERT, we have appointed a new and enlarged council. It is a body which is now attached to the Department of Labour. There has been, also, in its charter a redefinition of its objectives which give CERT a broader field of activity, taking in tourism and catering. This reflects a more unified approach, an approach that I was anxious to see adopted in this body. This more unified approach means that there will be a dovetailing of the training needs of these industries. As a sign of its increasing involvement in the tourism sector, CERT has since January, 1975 been represented at a series of marketing meetings organised by Bord Fáilte. These meetings provided an opportunity to establish initial contact with the various sectors of the tourism industry. A manpower and training needs survey of all sectors of tourism additional to the accommodation sector will be completed during 1976. Based on the results of this survey a full range of training programmes will be implemented.
There have also been a number of developments on the catering side, including the arrangement of training courses following the identification of training needs in particular sectors. A survey was carried out, in conjunction with the Department of Health,  to ascertain the training needs of hospital catering grades and resulting from this a series of courses has been run for health board catering staff. A full-scale manpower and training needs survey covering the industrial, institutional and licensed premises sectors of the industry has also been initiated.
The Exchequer grants towards the cost of CERT's activities for 1976 is £360,000. This of course will be supplemented by finance from the European Social Fund. The European Social Fund have already approved grants of £209,488 for 1975 and £237,000 and £154,000 for 1976 and 1977, respectively, and further applications have been submitted for additional grants.
Despite recession in the industry CERT decided to increase the number of trainees entering formal training courses in 1975. This is an investment in tomorrow's skills when hopefully there will be an upturn in the economy. Applications for the 438 places available for pre-entry training courses rose by more than 35 per cent on the 1974 figure of 1,400 to a record 1,900.
CERT recently purchased the former De La Salle Brothers property at Roebuck Road, Dublin 14. Their headquarters will be located there and they plan to establish a new training centre there also which will provide training facilities for those engaged in the hotel, catering and tourism industries which are not already available in existing training institutions.
At 11 formal training centres throughout the country, CERT co-ordinate the training of new entrants to the industry at both management and craft levels. The total number of trainees undergoing formal training in 1975-76 is 1,057. The number of new entrants at craft level was 428. Second year craft, management, receptionists and housekeepers totalled 629.
In 1975 some 1,686 persons participated in in-service courses carried out by CERT's regional training advisers. The categories involved included management, supervisory, instructor, diningroom, bar, kitchen, housekeeping, porterage and guesthouse management personnel.
 Because of the seasonal nature of a significant portion of the hotel industry, specially geared courses have been designed and operated at 25 locations. These courses were held in advance of the 1975 season for 750 persons and 666 persons are at present in training for the 1976 season A high proportion of the trainees were school leavers. CERT will continue to pay particular attention to the special position and needs of seasonal hotels.
CERT concern themselves with the initial placement of persons trained on the courses in hotels and the replacement of hotel staff. The total number of requests from hoteliers for trainees in 1975 was 1,207 and the total number of available trainees who sought employment was 526. CERT, of course, maintain close links with the National Manpower Service in the field of placement. They also play a co-ordinating role in the placement arrangements of trainees wishing to obtain European experience.
On the matter of the Irish Management Institute, the House should note that heavy investment in the training of workers is jeopardised if it is not matched by effective management training. My Department encourage management training by direct subvention of the Irish Management Institute and by means of the technical assistance grants scheme operated by AnCO. With the industry's current problems, never was it so important that the institute's efforts to improve the standard of management should succeed. While the survival of many Irish firms will depend on the skills of the entire work force, the major responsibility must be borne by management. To compensate for the geographical and historical disadvantages from which Irish industry suffers, vis-à-vis their competitors abroad, Irish employers must develop a higher degree of personal skill and must make more use of modern management techniques. One great obstacle is to get management to recognise the realities of the open market situation. Once the issues are faced, there is ample evidence to suggest that Irish managers can compete successfully with the best from other countries.
 The institute prepared a five-year programme for 1974-78. The programme is based on an analysis of the needs of Irish business and provides for a comprehensive range of both on-the-job and off-the-job training courses which can be geared to the special needs of individual firms or sectors of industry. There is, of course, continuous co-operation in the organisation of course between the IMI, AnCO and the regional technical colleges.
The Exchequer grant to the institute for 1976 is £300,000. This will be supplemented by European Social Fund money. To date, the institute have received £505,045 from the fund in respect of 1973 and 1974 and a further grant of £300,000 has been approved for 1975. A similar amount is expected to be approved for 1976.
The institute have a crucial role to play in helping managers to overcome the numerous problems posed by the recession, technological change and legitimate aspirations of employees seeking a say in the management of the firms in which they work.
In regard to the National Manpower Service, Deputies may like to note that in 1975 a total of 15,023 placements were made from 22,115 vacancies which were notified. Comparable figures for 1974 were 15,724 placements made from 24,234 vacancies notified. In the first three months of 1976, 3,919 placements were made from 5,746 vacancies notified. It is gratifying that more and more people, job seekers and employers alike, are recognising the benefits of the service. This manpower service has both an economic and a social function which I feel cannot be separated. Its main economic tasks are: to help employers to fill vacancies as quickly as possible with workers who have the ability or who can be trained to do the required job; and to help workers who are unemployed or redundant, or who wish to change their job, to find a new job which matches their abilities and aptitudes. By doing this the manpower service help to keep down the level of unemployment by reducing the time spent in moving between jobs, and the loss of output arising from unfilled jobs.
 Equally important, however, is the social responsibility which the service have to those workers who experience difficulty in obtaining or keeping employment. Sometimes it is a question of giving advice or guidance to such people or of drawing their attention to opportunities for training. The extent to which the manpower service are able to fulfil their role depends to a large extent on their knowledge of the labour market and the extensive contacts which they have established with employers in their normal day-to-day work.
I would on this occasion appeal to employers to use the National Manpower Service when recruiting workers of any kind and at all levels or for advice or information on manpower matters. The service now have a network of 26 manpower offices and a further three offices will be opened during this year. It is my intention that the manpower service should be further strengthened as quickly as possible so that they can make an even greater contribution towards increasing the efficiency of the labour market at this difficult time.
Despite the recession, information literature on careers is now a great necessity. Accurate and up-to-date information is one of the great needs of young people and more so today than ever before. Over 250 career leaflets, covering most careers and opportunities in this country have been published and widely distributed. I am most anxious that the information available reaches every child and every parent. Though the number of career guidance teachers in the schools has increased and an increasing number of young people are availing themselves of the services provided, I am still not satisfied that the information is reaching those most in need of it. To meet as wide a section of the public as possible, staff of my Department are attending a greater number of careers exhibitions as well as local shows and trade fairs.
A short audio-visual programme on the subject of choosing a career has been produced and has been shown at a number of exhibitions. It is proposed  to have further programmes on various careers produced before the end of the year. Slide versions of all programmes will be available for distribution to schools and youth organisations.
In regard to an occupational guidance service, I believe the essential feature of a modern employment service is the provision of a staff specially trained and qualified in occupational guidance. These staff do not in any way duplicate the work of the schools counselling service, being concerned only with adults and young people who have left school. I see a special role for the occupational guidance service in assisting redundant workers, whose skills have become obsolete, to make a fresh start in employment. Married women wishing to return to the work force after a number of years spent at home raising a family, should also find this service of great benefit to them. A start with this service has been made in the Dublin and Galway offices of the manpower service last summer and I hope to expand it into other offices during this year.
The purpose of the resettlement assistance scheme is to remedy structural and regional or area imbalances in the labour force and secure the best possible match between manpower supply and demand to the advantage of national economic development. The scheme provides financial assistance to those who are obliged to move to other areas within the country and emigrants returning home to take up employment arranged for them through the National Manpower Service. It is still difficult to arrange for inner mobility within the country in relation to job opportunities, even at the present time. Grants are also payable to persons to travel to undertake training or to be tested as to their suitability for such training. The numbers availing themselves of the grants under the scheme are increasing annually and I am confident that the scheme will help towards ensuring that sufficient skilled workers will be available for the industrial developments now proceeding in various parts of the country.
 The question of the free movement of workers within the EEC is often raised in relation to the National Manpower Service. The National Manpower Service of my Department are now responsible for the implementation of the EEC regulations on freedom of movement of workers within the Community. This, in effect, means helping workers who want to move and also employers, both here and in the other EEC countries, in recruiting workers for jobs which cannot be filled within their own states. Under the terms negotiated for entry to the European Economic Communities this country was allowed to retain its existing controls on the admission of non-nationals for work up to the end of 1977. However, the manpower service are obliged, in common with their opposite numbers in the Community, to notify the EEC secretariat at Brussels and the other member states each month of vacancies which they cannot fill from within this country and also to furnish a return giving an occupational breakdown of Irish workers interested in working in the other EEC countries.
There is no evidence of any major movement of workers from Ireland to the continental countries. Since accession to the EEC our records show that not more than some 800 persons expressed an interest in going abroad. We know that of these, 94 were offered employment, and that the majority went in order to improve their skills, broaden their experience or to perfect their knowledge of languages. Our figures relate, of course, only to those who went through the manpower service. We are aware that others went on their own initiative or in response to Press advertisements; some of the latter, as we learned later, with not too happy results.
My main priority in this matter is to press that the energies of the Community policies and institutions of which we are members be directed towards bringing jobs to people rather than encouraging emigration to find work. Firms which have problems in recruiting workers should be encouraged to locate new plants in the  regions of the Community where manpower is available.
This has been a bad year for school leavers seeking employment. The unprecedented high rate of unemployment has made it difficult if not impossible for many school leavers to get jobs. This was why I asked the training authority to set up a community youth training programme. In co-operation with the National Manpower Service, local authorities and voluntary organisations, training is being provided for unemployed young people in basic skills while undertaking projects of social value.
Following some basic training at a training centre, the young people gain working experience on the site under the supervision of a senior trainee who is an unemployed craftsman. The work, which would not otherwise have been done by full-time workers, includes repairs to old folks' homes, community halls, children's playgrounds, centres for handicapped children and premises for travelling people. Local authorities and voluntary bodies put forward the projects and the training authority assess their training content before including them in the programme.
In addition, the introduction of the new apprenticeship system will mean increased opportunities for young people and the substantially increased funds made available to the training authority will benefit young people because the majority of trainees of the training authority are in the 18-25 age group. It is planned to provide training places in the training centres for 1,000 apprentices in 1976. With the assistance of the European Social Fund, technician courses for approximately 800 students are being provided by the Department of Education at regional technical colleges. These students are paid an allowance of over £8 per week while training. Recruitment for these courses was carried out jointly by the Department of Education and the National Manpower Service. The expansion of the CERT training programme for new recruits to the hotels and catering industry, which I have described, is also aimed mainly at school leavers.
 Last year I set up a working party to examine the position as to manpower and training for employment arising from the discovery of natural gas off Kinsale and the further possibilities resulting from the extensive exploration off our coasts for oil and gas. The working party submitted their first report to me recently and the report has been made public. This report contained a series of recommendations about co-ordination of third-level education for the industry, introduction of additional third-level courses relevant to the industry, use of funds for education and training provided by the oil companies, action by the training authority on training of skilled workers and provision of employment services by the National Manpower Service to secure maximum employment opportunities for our workers. The recommendations in the report are now being followed up in consultation with the other Departments concerned and the National Manpower Service have started discussions with the oil companies and the contractors involved, about employment opportunities for Irish workers on the various operations started and planned. My aim is to secure effective action by the official agencies involved so that Irish people are employed to the maximum extent practicable on the exploration and development work and the “downstream” activities arising from the explorations of our natural resources.
The continuing success of the Labour Court and of the Rights Commissioner Service is evidenced from the increasing demands being imposed on them. In 1975, the Labour Court and its Conciliation Service dealt with 1,157 cases as compared with 987 in 1974. During 1975, 1,139 cases were referred to the Rights Commissioner, an increase of 38 per cent on the 1974 figure. Because of the increasing demands on the service, I appointed an additional Rights Commissioner on 14th February, 1976.
The extent to which the Government attach importance to a well-informed and responsible trade union movement can be gauged from the  allocation of Exchequer funds for trade union education and training. This year that allocation is £150,000. To achieve the best utilisation of this money, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions at my request submitted to me a co-ordinated programme of education and training for the trade union movement in 1975. It will be noted that the increase of funds to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is about three times what it was in 1973. I am hopeful that this programme means that future co-ordination between the training activities of Congress and its affiliated unions will be possible.
The Government are conscious, as indeed is the trade union movement itself, of the need to rationalise the existing rather unwieldy structure of trade union organisation in this country. However, I see the role of Government in this area as essentially supportive of the positive measures that trade unions themselves may adopt to remedy the situation. Already Government initiatives in trade union law have been directed towards providing an incentive towards rationalisation and assistance in preventing further fragmentation.
The Trade Union Act, 1975, is designed to bring some order and clarity into some obscure legal areas. The Act, some details of which have been given for the information of Deputies, will facilitate amalgamations and transfers of engagements between those trade unions wishing to do so of their own volition and it provides for financial assistance towards the expenses incurred in any such transfers or amalgamations. A special feature of this Act was the inclusion of a significant provision, in view of the all-Ireland structure of the trade union movement itself and of many of its constituent unions, enabling the Thirty-two County membership of British-based trade unions, if they so wish, to proceed with an amalgamation or transfer of engagements as if that membership itself constituted a trade union. Naturally, I am hopeful that this measure will stimulate progress towards the rationalisation which we all so earnestly desire. The Act  further provides that British-based unions operating in this country must have an executive located within the Thirty-two Counties with power to take decisions over a wide range of matters.
The Industrial Relations Act, 1976, is primarily designed to provide for the replacement of the Agricultural Wages Board by a Joint Labour Committee for agricultural workers set up under the aegis of the Labour Court. The proposed committee will be responsible for regulating the rates of pay and conditions of employment of agricultural workers of whom there are 20,000 in full-time employment and 14,000 in part-time employment. The Joint Labour Committee will, in its representation, permit farmers and their workers to determine together the future conditions of employment in this important industry. The Agricultural Wages Board will be disbanded as and from the making of the first employment regulation order covering agricultural workers, the provisions of which will be enforced by the Department's general inspectorate. I believe that future agreements arrived at by utilising the procedures of this Act will lead to the elimination of the differential that has been allowed to develop over the years resulting in a growing gap between the working conditions of the farm workers and those of other industrial employees.
The Act also provides for the appointment of at least one extra division of the Labour Court. The widening range of worker protection legislation has imposed a heavier work-load on the Labour Court. The court at present operates in three divisions and the Bill facilitates the appointment of additional divisions by order to enable it to deal with this increasing work-load. Section 9 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969, provides for the appointment of two Labour Court members—one employers', one workers'—to arbitration boards in the public service; the appointment to be made on the making of the appropriate order by me. The fullest consultations have taken place with the parties concerned  and it has been agreed that the implementation of section 9 should be deferred on the understanding that, as from 16th July, 1975, one employers' member and one workers' member of the court will sit on an arbitration board for a particular claim when either side so requests. This arrangement is an interim one and will be reviewed after a year of its operation.
I have previously indicated my intention to introduce further legislation to improve the overall climate of industrial relations. In connection with this I am reviewing the operation of the Rights Commissioner service and I intend to bring forward soon proposals for its development. The first Rights Commissioners were appointed in 1970. Since then the Rights Commissioner service has become an integral part of our industrial relations institutions.
I have given considerable attention to the problems of lower paid workers and I have, in consultation with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Labour Court, under consideration proposals for improving the existing legislation dealing with the statutory regulation of wages. I feel that one method of tackling the problem of low pay is through the establishment of further joint labour committees where low pay can be identified. I have already requested the Labour Court to establish a Joint Labour Committee for the restaurant trade, and, as I have already stated a Joint Labour Committee is about to be set up for agricultural workers. The legislation affecting these committees could I feel, in the light of experience gained since 1946, be improved upon so as to improve the efficiency of operation of existing committees and make it easier to establish new committees. A new development that I might mention briefly here is the establishment of the industrial relations monitoring unit charged with the difficult task of anticipating areas of potential conflict where the public interest might be involved.
On the question of minimum wages and conditions of employment, I should like to state that while the  salaries and wages of a major portion of the workers are catered for under voluntary agreements, there are others to whom for one reason or another this does not apply. These are workers, numbering about 40,000, who come within the scope of employment regulation orders made by the Labour Court on the proposals of the various Joint Labour Committees set up under the Industrial Relations Act, 1946. In addition, there are also about 60,000 workers, who are covered by the terms and conditions of the employment agreements registered by the Labour Court, mainly in the construction industry. It is my responsibility to enforce the provisions of the employment regulation orders and registered employment agreements on behalf of these 100,000 workers.
My policy is to prosecute employers who fail to observe the terms of the employment regulations orders particularly with reference to wages. I have been pursuing this policy through the general inspection section of my Department. The number of inspections made during the year 1975 was 4,271 and payment of arrears due to workers amounting to £7,200 was effected. Defaulting employers are, in fact, in a minority.
My main purpose in initiating prosecutions is to alert workers to the protection which the law can afford them and the facilities available to them through the services of my Department. I also hope that the prosecutions will serve as a deterrent to other employers, a minority though they may be, who are disposed to underpay their employees. A decline in the volume of arrears found to be due to workers suggests that my policy of prosecuting defaulting employers is succeeding.
In addition to the enforcement of the statutory minimum wages and conditions laid down in employment regulation orders and registered employment agreements. I have the responsibility of ensuring that the worker protection measures laid down in various Acts are complied with, notably the Conditions of Employment  Acts, the Holidays Act and the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act. A piece of worker protection legislation of current interest is that contained in the European Community Social Regulation on Road Transport. Briefly, these govern maximum hours of driving and provide for the introduction of monitoring equipment in vehicles. While deferment of part of the requirements of these regulations has been obtained, we must plan for a smooth transition to the full requirements of the legislation when this becomes necessary.
The redundancy payments scheme which started in 1968 has helped over 67,000 persons who lost their jobs because of redundancy. The scheme was amended in 1971 and again in 1974 in order to improve benefits and to bring more people within the scope of the benefits.
The main features of the scheme are, a lump sum payment and a system of weekly payments. The lump sum is payable by the employer and the weekly payments are made from the redundancy fund. A proportion of the lump sum is recoverable from the fund by the employer. Another feature of the scheme is that payment of the lump sum is guaranteed to a redundant worker where an employer is unable to make payment because of, for example, insolvency. In that case the lump sum may be paid direct from the redundancy fund. The liability incurred by the fund in respect of such lump sum payments since the inception of the scheme amounted to almost £½ million by the end of 1975. The bulk of this was in respect of firms in receivership, insolvent and so on. The fund is financed by weekly contributions from employers and employees. In 1975 the fund had a deficit of over £2¾ million in income to meet its statutory outgoings and it was necessary to meet this deficit by way of repayable Exchequer advances and by exhausting the fund's investment account. The contribution increases recently provided for are designed to reduce the current deficit in the fund by the end of 1977. The detailed reasons for the increases are threefold. Firstly, the higher than expected rate of redundancy  in 1975. Secondly, a greater number of redundant workers tended to remain unemployed far longer than usual because of a depressed employment market. Thirdly, a larger number of workers than usual lost their jobs because of liquidations and receiverships and it was necessary to step in and pay the lump sums of these workers from the fund, a possibility that is provided for in the legislation.
The industrial inspectorate of my Department is the body which has the responsibility of promoting the safety, health and welfare of workers. This body has the task of ensuring that employers meet their obligations under the various worker-protection Acts administered by the Department, particularly the Factories Act, 1955 and the Mines and Quarries Act, 1965. An additional activity of the inspectorate is to provide a safety-advisory and accident-prevention service to industry.
The importance of the advisory functions of the inspectorate can hardly be overstressed. Only if safety considerations are kept constantly in mind can the toll of industrial accidents be kept to a minimum. Any employer with a problem in the field of worker safety is invited to seek the advice of the inspectorate at any time. I again appeal to managements to make the fullest use of this service. Industrial growth and the increasing complexity of industrial processes continue to place a strain on the resources of the inspectorate. Its strength has been increased and arrangements have been made to augment it still further.
The efforts of the industrial inspectorate in the interests of worker safety are supplemented by the National Industrial Safety Organisation (NISO). NISO is a voluntary body, supported in part and when necessary, by a grant from the Department of Labour which also supplies it with staff and accommodation. It seeks to help management and workers in tackling safety problems in the work place, by collecting information on worker safety from kindred organisations in other countries, by publishing leaflets, posters and booklets on the subject and by putting on safety films and exhibitions, holding lectures  and seminars and putting on safety training courses for personnel. As a useful step towards creating an atmosphere of greater safety consciousness among workers, I appeal to all employers who have not already done so to join the National Industrial Safety Organisation.
With increasing industrialisation new hazards to the safety and health of the worker continually arise or are acknowledged as such. In this connection I should like to refer to concern about disease associated with asbestos dust which was recently the subject of a question in this House. I have made regulations under the Factories Act providing for the protection of workers who might be exposed to the dangers arising from the handling of asbestos or materials containing asbestos and Deputies can be assured that the up-to-date safety standards laid down will be enforced so as to safeguard the health of the workers concerned. Ideally, occupational health hazards should be anticipated and corrective or preventive action taken. In an effort to achieve this end the surveys of health hazards in industry are continuing and I have plans for setting up an occupational health service. A new development has been the appointment of a doctor as industrial medical adviser in the occupational health service and I expect that he will take up duty within the next few weeks.
In recent times the trend towards worker democracy has been gaining increasing momentum throughout Europe. It seemed, however, that Ireland was going to remain an island isolated from this movement, not participating in the European movement. That is not to deny the existence here of a de facto form of worker participation through the collective bargaining system. In this way, as Deputies know, workers can influence decisions through consultations and negotiations at plant and industry level and, in the case of some agreements, like the national wage agreement, at national level.
Yet what I regard as a fundamental right—the right to codecision—is not guaranteed to workers. It has, of course, been the subject of some discussion on  occasions. Nevertheless, no firm legislative commitment had been given or no positive action had been taken in this direction until this Government —as an integral part of its policy— committed itself to the introduction of worker participation in State enterprises by way of the election of employee representatives to State boards.
Towards this end, I set up a special unit within my Department with responsibility for the advancement of worker participation. I gave priority to the drafting of the legislation necessary for the implementation of the Government's undertaking. I have already announced the broad proposals which I have in mind and which have been approved by the Government. The consultations with the interests concerned are at an advanced stage, and I hope to be in a position to introduce the Bill in the Dáil shortly.
I regard this legislation as a most practical and significant contribution towards improving industrial relations: for the first time in the history of our State, workers in an enterprise will be represented when important policy decisions which affect their interests are being taken at board level. The legislation which I envisage would give a legal right to workers to elect representatives to the boards of State enterprises. These representatives will sit on the board with other directors and will participate fully with the other directors in determining the policy-making decisions of the enterprise. The legislation will be limited initially to seven State enterprises—Aer Lingus Teoranta; Bord na Móna; British and Irish Steam Packet Company Limited; Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann Teoranta; Coras Iompair Éireann; Electricity Supply Board; Nitrigin Éireann Teoranta— to see how it works.
I believe that the State has an obligation to be in the forefront of social change. If, therefore, the proposed legislation is confined to State enterprises it is because—being an area in which the State can directly influence policy—they commend themselves to me as being the most  suitable area for social innovation. It is not my intention to dogmatise about solutions: I am, therefore, seeking to provide legislation of maximum flexibility. In this way, with a careful monitoring and a critical analysis of developments I would hope to be able, if necessary, to introduce whatever modifications may be necessary in the light of experience. I shall, moreover, ensure that the distinctive features in the Irish social, economic and political situation, which demand distinctive treatment, are taken into account. It is my conviction that worker democracy is an essential complement to political democracy. In this regard, I hope to provide a model in State enterprises which can serve as an example for the rest of Irish industry.
I do not see the appointment of worker directors as the be all and end all of worker participation—far from it. It is my aim to ensure that continuing progress will be made in the entire area. Other forms of participation are being examined in my Department. The worker participation unit is also studying measures which would improve worker participation at various other levels of decision making. These include: measures to improve the quality and design of jobs; the enlargement and enrichment of jobs generally and the possibility of setting up semi-autonomous work groups.
The Commission on the Status of Women had examined comprehensively the position of women in Ireland and the recommendations in their report of May, 1973, has furnished much of the impetus for the legal reform initiated in this area by this Administration.
In this connection I would like to refer to the work of the Women's Representative Committee, which I set up, under the chairmanship of Eileen Desmond, T.D. The setting up of an official body to represent women's interests was one of the recommendations in the commission's report. One of the tasks which I assigned to this committee was to report to me on progress towards the implementation of the recommendations  in the report and to make submissions on the legislative and administrative reforms which will ensure that Irish women participate fully in Irish society, in politics, in local government, wherever vital decisions affecting the lives of our citizens are being made.
The Women's Representative Committee has a broad and challenging role. Apart from its main function to report on progress towards the implementation of the recommendations in the Commission on the Status of Women's report it may make recommendations on any other matters affecting women which arise in the future.
During the past year the committee has made recommendations on the training of girl apprentices and on improved industrial training for women and has made other submissions and recommendations relating to reform of the law, free legal civil aid and advice. The committee is also examining areas such as social welfare, taxation of married women, flexible working hours and creche facilities. The committee regards its work as ongoing and intends to press ahead vigorously in the coming year with a comprehensive programme to highlight the many areas of discrimination against women which still exist.
Needless to say, the reforms required to enable women in this country to participate in all spheres of life with men will not be accomplished overnight. However, it is the intention of my colleagues and I that the recommendations from this committee are implemented as quickly as possible.
During 1975 the Women's Representative Committee acted as an advisory body in relation to the national programme for United Nations International Women's Year. Many successful seminars, projects and exhibitions were held and I am confident that the Year succeeded in drawing the attention of men and women to the necessity of the increased involvement of women in forming the society of equality we wish to have in this country.
I have already referred to legislation  passed which will provide equality of treatment in respect of pay at work, for example, the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974, and to legislation pending that is the Anti-Discrimination (Employment) Bill which I hope to bring before the House shortly. I think the provisions of the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974, are well known to most Members of the House. Basically, it entitles women doing like work with men or work of equal value to equal remuneration and allows individual women who feel they have been discriminated against in this regard to avail themselves of legal remedies to attain such rights.
In respect of this Act Deputies will be aware that application has been made to the European Community seeking financial aid to deal with possible employment consequences which could follow its immediate implementation in the case of certain firms. We were compelled to take this step since the procedure suggested in our proposed Anti-Discrimination (Pay) (Amendment) Bill, namely, that where employees in an undertaking were convinced that job loss would be a consequence of the implementation of the 1974 equal pay Act that such employees would have the right to decide on their own pace of phasing in of the provision of the 1974 Act subject to a time limit of two years, were not acceptable to the commission. The Anti-Discrimination (Employment) Bill which has yet to become law will make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sex or marriage as regards access to employment, training for or during employment, conditions of employment, promotion, re-grading in employment and job classification. It is open to individual women who are the victims of such discrimination to have recourse to the procedure of the Labour Court or the courts of law for legal remedies.
The legislation will apply to employers in general. It will also apply to employment agencies in so far as their activities in offering vacancies and submitting people for jobs must not be discriminatory.
 The Bill deals with the situation where an organisation confines its membership, or the benefits deriving from membership, on grounds of sex. Trade unions, employers' organisations and professional and trade organisations come into this category since membership of these organisations can affect eligibility and opportunity for employment or the carrying on of a business or profession.
The Bill will provide power to initiate action in cases of discrimination where it would not be reasonable to rely on reference of disputes by individuals and where procedures for enforcement in the public interest would be desirable. Such cases would include discriminatory advertisements or where there was pressure to discriminate or where a general policy of discrimination was being followed by a firm or organisation.
I have already referred to the fact that an agency will be established under this Bill which will investigate practices that appear to be discriminatory. If such practices are found to be unlawful the agency will use their enforcement powers to eliminate them. The agency will launch a comprehensive programme of information about rights under the anti-discrimination legislation and any other matters affecting the status of women.
I should also mention that the Bill gives power to repeal by affirmative order protective legislation affecting women in employment which is no longer justified. A review of this legislation will first of all be carried out in consultation with the social partners, the employers and unions.
Apart from the action I have already taken to curb discrimination against women in employment, it is also my intention to tackle other areas where I find discrimination widely practised. Two possible areas of discrimination which I have had recently researched are those of age and social origin. The conclusions are now being examined in my Department. There is evidence of late to suggest that discrimination on social grounds operates at the level of unskilled educationally deprived young people of socially disadvantaged  backgrounds. It would seem to be confined to certain areas of Dublin and to a lesser extent in the large cities and towns where industry is concentrated. Further areas where discriminatory practices come to light will also be probed and legislation introduced if there seems good reason to do so.
I have arranged for the formulation of legislative proposals to protect employees who are unfairly dismissed. At present, an employee seeking legal redress in a dismissal case can do so only through the civil courts. The formality, delays and costs of such proceedings can often act as a major deterrent to the use of the civil court machinery. The legislation which I will propose will provide a simple, effective and cheap means of having the fairness of a dismissal tested.
Broadly speaking, the new legislation would provide an appeals machinery under which the circumstances of a dismissal could be objectively investigated and adjudicated upon in accordance with specified criteria. Where an employee was found to have been unfairly dismissed, the remedies would include re-engagement or compensation.
The Government have given their approval to the proposals and the Bill is at present being drafted. Consultations are taking place with the social partners and Government Departments. I hope to introduce the legislation shortly.
A Bill is also being prepared aimed at affording greater protection to workers threatened by collective redundancies and at bringing about harmonisation of policies in the EEC member countries for dealing with collective redundancies. The Bill will require employers contemplating collective redundancies to consult workers' representatives about ways of avoiding such redundancies and of mitigating their consequences. Worker representatives must be given information as to the reason for the proposed redundancies, the number of workers to be made redundant, the number of workers normally employed and the period over which the redundancies are to be effected.
 I should like now to comment on secondary legislation on safety, health and welfare. The making of regulations under the Factories Act, 1955, and the Mines and Quarries Act, 1965, is a continuing feature of the administration of these Acts. Technological change and increased knowledge arising from research into the causes of accidents and industrial diseases require that the operating conditions in factories, mines and quarries be kept under review and that the statutory rules for securing the safety and health of workers are adapted as frequently as necessary.
The industrial inspectorate of my Department is continuously monitoring working conditions with particular attention to the identification of new hazards; 43 sets of regulations have been made since April, 1973, prescribing special precautions to be taken in certain industrial processes. Preparatory work is in progress on other regulations. It is through the medium of these various regulations taken in conjunction with the provisions of the parent Acts that my Department can develop a flexible response to the hazards arising from changing conditions of production.
In the area of legislation there is, too, the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Bill. Deputies will be generally familiar with the subject matter of this Bill which is at present before the Seanad. It sets down certain minimum conditions of employment for people under 18 years. The various standards incorporated in the Bill relate to the minimum age for entry into employment, the limited exceptions below that age, the maximum working hours which a young employee may not be permitted to exceed, normal working hours, rest intervals and restrictions on night work. In addition, there are provisions about evidence of age, keeping of appropriate records, powers of inspection, prosecution and penalties.
I have thought it desirable to have a comprehensive review of the Factories Act, 1955, carried out. As Deputies know, technological developments affecting production methods and materials can be a source of new  hazards and risks to the safety and health of workers. The review was designed to assess the adequacy of the main powers which I have under the Act so as to ensure that the greatest possible protection for the safety and health of workers in modern industrial conditions can be arranged. Following this study I propose to seek Government approval for legislation which will provide further measures for the protection of the worker.
On the question of EEC social policy, our twin concerns in the area of social policy have consisted in extending the range of Community social policy as well as a consistent effort to make the European Social Fund an instrument better attuned to the problems of underdevelopment, social and economic, throughout the Community. Our objective has been to make social policy at Community level respond to the employment problem being experienced throughout the Nine. Our central concern in the social policy area has consisted in an endeavour to end the separation of social from economic policy in the hope that this must eventually confront Community social policy with the principal social evil of our time in Europe, that is unemployment. Irish emphasis on the need to make Community social policy responsive to the problems created by unemployment now has greater support within the Community than formerly, though there is still quite a long way to go before one could express satisfaction with the sum of Community endeavour on this matter. We can, however, take some pride in the fact that input in policy formation at European level is now bearing some fruit. Next month's Tripartite Conference in Luxembourg should see additional progress being made in the direction sought by us all along over the past three years.
The holding of the first meeting of the Standing Committee on Employment under the Irish Presidency and our efforts to obtain joint meetings of Ministers for Finance and Labour, European employer and trade union bodies have been consistent with our overall objectives in the social policy  area. During the Irish Presidency of the Social Affairs Council, I advocated a joint approach to the serious employment situation involving Ministers for Finance and Social Affairs. I am glad to say that these interests referred to attended such a meeting on 18th November, 1975, involving Ministers for Finance, Social Affairs and the social partners. Discussion at this conference centred on problems of recovery of the economy and on the general employment situation. There was a consensus for an active community employment policy with special attention being paid to young workers and mobility of workers. The need for reflation of the economies of member states without at the same time generating further inflation; the importance of investment in both the public and private sectors as well as the problems arising from increasing costs of raw materials were other subjects discussed at the conference. At the conference I argued that the Community response to the present employment crisis was totally inadequate and that the Community needed a financial instrument such as an employment fund, which could be brought to bear directly on the employment situation by existing member countries in measures to create and maintain employment. I have since given an outline of my ideas for such a fund to the Commission.
Any appraisal of the effectiveness of Community social policy over the past few years must inevitably lead to the conclusion that a fresh instrument is needed which will have a direct impact on employment with the resources of a separate fund behind it.
Speaking of community social policy brings to mind the question of the social fund; that it cannot operate successfully without the requisite resources remains the Irish position. We shall continue in the context of developing community social policy to criticise, I hope, constructively shortcomings as we see them in the structure of the social fund as at present organised. In doing so, however, I should like to make it clear that we  have done extremely well in terms of support from the fund in relation to our size and population.
In 1973, which was the first full year of operation of the new fund, we submitted 22 applications for assistance to a total figure of approximately £5.3 million. Our applications were successful to a total figure of approximately £4.6 million of which £4.1 million related to operations scheduled to take place in 1973 and the balance of about £½ million related to commitments for operations proposed for 1974 and 1975.
A total of 47 applications for an amount of £12.1 million has been lodged by us with the Commission in relation to operations commencing in 1976. Further applications will be submitted throughout this year. One aspect of the administration of the fund which has been a cause of dissatisfaction has been the delays in making grants payments. The Commission undertook to take measures which, it was hoped, would help to streamline procedures. I expect that the position should improve from now on but the whole question is one which I will continue to keep under review and if delays persist, I will continue to press the Commission to take whatever remedial action may be necessary. I should make it clear that any criticisms I have to make are not intended in any way to reflect on the attitudes of individual Commission officials. Indeed, I should express my appreciation of the assistance which Commission officials dealing with the social fund have always given to my Department.
Although the resources of the social fund in 1976 were increased by 85 million units of account over the amount provided in the 1975 budget the insufficiency of the amount available this year is already evident. The latest figures available to us show that the amounts of fund assistance requested in current applications on the  part of countries are in the region of 2½ times as much as the amounts available for distribution under both Articles 4 and 5. These figures do not, of course, take account of further applications which will be submitted later in 1976. The result is that numerous worthwhile applications for fund assistance will either have to be denied assistance altogether or can receive only limited help.
While we are not happy with the level of increase proposed by the Commission for the social fund as a whole in 1977, we have even more serious reservations about the proposal to allocate the entire amount of that increase to Article 4. Whilst we understand that the proposal to bring the amounts of credits for the two Articles 4 and 5 into balance in 1977 may be seen as a step in that necessary direction, we consider that the Commission should proceed more cautiously towards equilibrium between the two Articles.
As we see it, the reason for the initial advantage given to Article 5 apart from the time needed to introduce areas of Article 4 intervention, was to allow less-developed regions of the Community a chance to catch up with the standards of the more developed regions. Economic conditions especially during the present recession, has meant that the position of less developed regions has deteriorated sharply. We consider, therefore, that much more time is needed to allow the less-developed Community regions to improve their relative positions and that a strong Article 5 should be maintained to help that trend.
Before I leave this matter of the social fund, which after the agricultural fund provides most financial assistance to the State from the EEC, I should refer to the fact that since the Department of Labour is the body designated by the Government to have overall responsibility for the social fund, I arranged recently for a meeting to take place which would review the experience of Irish applications to the European Social Fund over the past three years. This meeting took place on 12th March, 1976 and the  attendance included representatives of employers, trade unions, Government Departments and semi-State bodies; representatives of 50 private firms and rehabilitation bodies who had benefited from the fund also attended.
Finally, on EEC matters generally, I would like to tell the House that on 6th May the first meeting of the Administrative Board of the European Foundation for Living and Working Conditions took place in Dublin. The foundation is the first EEC body to be located in Ireland and will have a budget of approximately £500,000 for 1976. I should like on this occasion to thank our colleagues in the other EEC countries, who after our intensive lobbying in both the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers and in the Council of Social Affairs Ministers accorded us the necessary support to obtain this foundation for Ireland. As a principal research centre of the European Community, it has, I believe, a very important role to play in the future of the EEC.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: This is the 10th anniversary of the setting up of the Department of Labour by a Fianna Fáil Government. I have listened to the lengthy speech of the Minister for Labour, who has been one-third of that time in office. If he were at the beginning of his Ministry, one would say he was the Minister who promised most or, to put it another way, the most promising Minister. Experience, however, over that period has shown that his contribution in that vital Ministry in our present-day society has been disappointing, to say the least. The past 18 months particularly has seen him moving from crisis to crisis, from disaster to disaster. While he made a long Estimate speech this morning, he avoided going into detail on the main areas giving us concern at present. For the past 15 months I have been spokesman on this Department on this side of the House. This is the first time in that 15 months that we have had an opportunity of debating the Labour Estimate. It is unfortunate that when presented to us there  is an urgency about this Estimate, as we discovered earlier on the Order of Business this morning. This highlights the fire-brigade type of tactics employed by this Minister and his Government. They never do anything until the last minute, until money is really needed. Is it any wonder that the Irish Independent on Saturday morning last carried the headline “We Are Broke”, that there is no money to pay the public service if a pay rise is agreed to? That independent organ, which not even the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, by any stretch of the imagination, or even in his wildest, most irresponsible moments could say was a Fianna Fáil organ, saw fit to carry that headline. When one listened to the Minister's speech this morning one could express so much disappointment with it. The Minister's fear to mention specifically or to deal in detail with the areas really affecting our society is a further indictment of his lack of performance in this vital role.
I will refer to the economic climate and outlook and to illustrate this I will comment on the economic review of the Confederation of Irish Industry published last week—No. 1 of 1976. This body have played a very important role in our industrial development. They refer to the Irish economic performance since the oil crisis and mention the OECD report on the economic outlook. They produce four tables, one for 1974, one for 1975, a forecast for 1976 and an overall table for the period. The indicators used, which are mainly concerned with employment, are the difference between the actual GNP growth, and the average GNP growth during the sixties, the difference between the actual inflation and average inflation during the sixties, the change in the foreign balance in 1973 as a percentage of the GNP and, most important, the change in unemployment since 1973 as a percentage of the labour force. Twenty countries are listed in these four tables. In 1974, on table 1, Ireland's overall rank is nineteenth, the only one behind us is Australia, where the Government who  then operated have since been removed from office. In the 1975 table, the 1976 table and the overall table from 1974 to 1976 we are placed twentieth.
Is it any wonder that it says that the message is clear enough, that not all of the blame for our current economic situation can be ascribed to the oil crisis and world recession? Poor economic management is the other obvious contributory factor. That is why this morning our Minister for Labour absolutely ignored the major problem facing us—the problem of continuing high unemployment figures, that presently bear no relation to the register of such figures circulated to us weekly. By June, which is only next month our actual and factual unemployment figures will have exceeded 200,000 people. The Minister has made very brief and rather indifferent reference to the plight of our school leavers within that huge figure. Those young people will eventually blame the Minister for the lack of opportunity for them when their school days are over. The Minister referred to the fact that last year was a difficult year for many of them and that many failed to gain employment. What about the huge number that are now coming on the employment market, some of them having repeated a further year and with very little effort being made to create employment for them? The Minister has concealed the true facts of the lack of effort by this Government to take any positive measures to solve that problem. It is the Minister's duty to solve it. It is time the Minister came out from within the cossetted area he has allowed himself to be put into, covered in cotton wool, advised by intellectual economists who are not able to put their own intellectual economic philosophy into practice, or who would not be able to put any type of economic growth or progress into practice.
My party and I have subscribed in the past, and will continue to support, the concept of State enterprise, State industry, and semi-State bodies. Our former Taoiseach inaugurated and developed most of them. The private sector is also a very important industrial  sector providing employment. The Minister and his colleagues seem to believe that that sector is not entitled to support, that that sector can go it alone. That is a sector which has given a very high volume of employment, and could give more if the proper climate was created by the State, if the proper type of assistance was given, even State support if necessary, to some industries that have ailed in the past and are still ailing. The type of people advising the Minister have never had the experience of the tough graft of private enterprise and private industry, where management has not always been perfect and where there is room for improvement. Both good and bad managements have experienced difficulties of meeting the cost of continuing employment, and the cost of the weekly wage bill. Until this Government realise that these people deserve support and that expansion should be encouraged our employment situation will not improve appreciably. There has been an upsurge in the world economy, but there will be no improvement here until we positively face the problems that beset us. This Government are obsessed with the idea of tax equity. I fully support that idea. However, the Government have regarded profit making as a sin totally opposed to their sociological ideals. I frown on profit sharing used for the gainful advantage of an individual or a group of individuals. But if profit is being put back into industrial development, if it is creating more jobs and continuing to update technology and equipment available to industry, then we should support and encourage it. We must bear in mind today the necessity for keeping our industry competitive. That is one of the main areas where unemployment figures are so terribly high and why we are placed in a most unenviable position at the tail of a league such as this. A vear or two ago the Minister for Finance referred to us as a small country floating in a terrible world-wide recession. If one looks at the countries at the top of that league one sees that the vast majority are small also.  If we look at certain areas—and I shall include the premium employment programme and this morning's comment by the Minister on it— where have we lost the greatest number of jobs? We have lost them in the textile, footwear, engineering, motor assembly and building industries, all industries that have been good to us traditionally, good to us in a social sort of way particularly. One finds textile and footwear industries especially based all over rural Ireland. The closures that have taken place and which could have been averted constitute a serious economic problem. They also create very serious social tragedies for many areas.
I welcome the slight effort made by the Minister in the programme to which he referred this morning. Although it may have been imaginative last year, there is no imagination in what he is doing today. It was foreseeable that the programme would have to be extended. The disappointing feature of it is that he did not do what we have been asking him to do for so long—extend its scope. One must remember that for the most part very few school leavers can qualify under that programme. Secondly, certain industries are excluded, for example, the building and service industries. It was extended a few times previously because of our pressures. There is no glory or kudos to be gained for the Minister by saying that he will increase the premium paid under that programme from £12 to £15 because most of that increase will be absorbed into Government funds on account of the stamp and income tax increases. Therefore, there is nothing new in that area. The increased premium will merely keep it somewhere in line with the £12 given last year.
In the Book of Estimates we see a figure of £1,250,000 for 1975. I understood that figure was intended to cater for the target the Minister had in mind in respect of that scheme of 10,000 jobs. Although on previous occasions the Minister mentioned 5,000, in the House this morning he admitted the truth by saying that 4,500 jobs only have been created under that programme. One must ask then if there  was a saving of more than £600,000 on that last year. The same figure is shown in the 1976 Estimates as was shown for last year. I would ask the Minister seriously to review the conditions of that premium employment programme. In introducing this Estimate for £1,250,000, it is the Minister's duty to ensure that that sum is utilised fully for the re-employment of a number of people. Dear knows it is little enough in these times.
In his final comments the Minister referred to the European social policy and to the EEC Social Fund. As I said earlier, the Minister has occupied his office for a third of the life of his ministry. He has been the luckiest holder of the office because no predecessor of his had available to him the type of assistance now available from Europe. While the entire amount of the Estimate does not go to the Department, most of it goes to agencies directly under its control. A small amount will go to other people but the vast majority goes to AnCO, CERT and so on. In 1973 we received £4.6 million from the fund. In 1975 we received £14.1 million, a very significant contribution to the activities of this Minister and his Department. The question we must ask ourselves is: how well has the Minister spent the money? Has it been spent as gainfully for the benefit of our people as it should and, hopefully, it has been. The bulk of it went to AnCO. In the Estimates here this morning there is £8,250,000 being provided by the Exchequer for AnCO for administration and general expenses. There is approximately £5,500,000 coming from Europe, which amounts to £14 million, not counting the £1,250,000 capital expenditure.
I compliment AnCO on the wonderful work they have been and are doing. I wish them well in the continuance of that work and in the expansion of their activities. They are doing a marvellous job in training but there is a little more to training than the Minister seems to realise. It must be frustrating for AnCO people and, indeed, for trained and retrained workers especially that there are so  few outlets for them. I commend the idea of increasing the training to 11,000 but training is not the be all or end all of employment. It is but the beginning. Opportunities must be found for such people. That is why I particularly criticise the Minister for referring here this morning to the sum of money made available in the public capital budget for the building and construction industry. There the Minister is not comparing like with like because the increase in costs has been so great—some of the costs were demonstrated in this House last evening by Deputy O'Malley—particularly in the building industry in the past three years that the amount of money allocated now to building and construction bears no relation to what would have been allocated a couple of years ago. The reality of the situation is that almost 12,000 more people are unemployed in that industry than there were at the beginning of last year. That is particularly disappointing when one looks at the efforts of AnCo because, within that industry, there was a lot of room in the past for apprenticeships. Indeed, within that and allied industries there were opportunities both for young trained and retrained workers.
Therefore, there must be further developments from AnCO. It is not sufficient for the Minister to say he is doing this this year because the reality of the situation is that we are training people for the dole queues. There is no point in having well trained or well educated dole queues. We must tackle the dole queues. We must get people back to work. This is what my party would and will do in the not too distant future, through the necessary restoration of confidence in our economy so sadly lacking at present. I read in the Press during the week a comment of the Minister for Industry and Commerce appealing for restoration of confidence and a stop to talk about there being no confidence in the economy at present. The harsh reality of the situation is that we need many jobs. We are not saying that. It is not scare-mongering from here because in every type of production and newspaper one reads everyone is saying it. We need jobs urgently. We need  short term schemes. We need long term ones also.
The IDA have published a paper by Michael J. Killeen on industrial development and full employment. The IDA have contributed a lot to employment in the past and they are continuing to do a very good job in those difficult times although they are not being helped by the industrial climate created by the Government. Mr. Killeen in his paper, in relation to manufacturing, is talking of a figure from 17,000 to 19,000, which is a 1975 figure. This year the figure in manufacturing industry is probably 25,000 jobs. There must also be an equivalent figure in relation to the services industry, the non-manufacturing sector. Therefore, we are talking in the region of 40,000 new jobs needed in the next decade.
This is a major task. Unless steps are taken in time this cannot be done. If the will is not there there is no hope that it can ever be achieved. This is not unachievable because the actual gross new jobs created during the two years ended December, 1974 were 17,800 in 1973 and 16,200 in 1974. Those jobs were not created in 1973 or 1974 and there is no point in the Minister for Labour or any of his colleagues claiming credit for them. They were created in the three to five years prior to that period when the foundation had to be laid for the industrial development that created those jobs. The situation now is a sad departure from what we had then. The worsening situation is not entirely the fault of world recession or the oil crisis. It is more than half the fault of the people at present carrying the responsibility of guiding the affairs of the economy.
Will the Minister tell us why the farm apprenticeship scheme is in financial difficulties at the moment and why money is short? We know it is not entirely the concern of his Department, that it is probably under the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. If it is an apprenticeship scheme and if money is available from the social fund surely it should be available to help the farm apprenticeship  scheme? If this scheme is having difficulties under the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries it is time the Minister for Labour examined it. If there is an area where job creation can be cultivated and extended it is in the area of agriculture. If the stories circulating regarding the shortage of money for that scheme are true it is time the Minister for Labour stepped in and helped it from some of the social fund money.
I want to compliment CERT. Before our radio and television services went off the air the CERT advertisement was one of the pleasant ones on radio. Deputies do not often have the chance to see television during the week but when travelling by car we can listen to the radio. It was encouraging to hear CERT calling for school leavers at a time when the Minister has created very few opportunities for them. Those coming up to examination time were given some little encouragement by the CERT advertisements. I was a school leaver during the time of a former Coalition and I know what it felt like then to fail to get a job.
I referred to rising costs and the fears created in the private sector. I understand we have a redundancy order coming before the House shortly curtailing redundancy payments. This order can only be described as a group of Ministers who do not seem to know where they are going. We were told by Deputy O'Malley last night, who researched the matter in great detail, that inflation had increased by about 65 per cent during the life of this Government, that rising costs were affecting every sector and that it was understandable that social welfare would have to be increased to meet those rising costs. It is to the eternal shame of the Government that they try to make so much capital out of their contribution to the social welfare recipients. Their approach has been a negative rather than a positive one from the beginning or perhaps there was another angle to it.
The contribution of the last Coalition Government to social welfare  was miserable. Those who remember it better than I do tell me that it was 2s. 6d. to old age pensioners in a period of three years or in old money terms 10d. a year. This is what got them the name of the tenpenny Government. This time they wanted to bury forever the tenpenny image which was attached to them. The attack this time has been on the workers. They are now mainly bearing the burden of increased social welfare stamp contributions and of increased income tax payments. This is also affecting small industries which are so vital to the economic and social life of rural Ireland. Their increased contribution to the cost of the stamp is further slowing down the creation of employment opportunities.
We have a growing population, a diminishing work force and no job openings. Yesterday in the House there was a discussion on the census of population and the reasons why it was not being taken. The Taoiseach told us there was no necessity for it, that we had all sorts of manpower surveys being carried out but in the Estimate before us there are some interesting remarks in relation to research. The explanation of research states that it is expenses in connection with manpower surveys and other research work. Last year a sum of £30,000 was allocated and this year the figure is the same. This effectively means a reduction. I ask the Minister to explain why there is no increase and why there has been no increase particularly in view of the Taoiseach's statement in the House yesterday. Less actual work is being carried out in research this year because the money allocated is only the same as that allocated for last year and in the meantime costs have increased very substantially. Again I ask the Minister why? I expect him to explain that.
I want to refer again to growth and opportunities in the building industry, and how necessary it is that that industry be kept viable. It has for a long time become our economic barometer. Before my political life began I was closely associated with that industry.  In the 'sixties great opportunities were provided in that industry. There was a great deal of employment and apprenticeships. Trades and skills were scarce. It was almost impossible to get skilled labour. What is the position now? The reverse is the case.
It is misleading to continue to blame the oil crisis for the industry's and the economy's present state. The difficulties which it posed have been exacerbated by misguided fiscal policies which might be appropirate——
It is amazing the similarity one reads in all reports published nowadays. I know the Minister will say—and some of his backbenchers would have the audacity to say—that these people who write these reports support the Opposition. This goes back to what I said earlier. The Minister and his colleagues are cossetting themselves in cotton wool and listening to people who have no knowledge of the practical difficulties being faced by industry, and the building industry particularly, at present.
It is very easy to see why last Saturday's Irish Independent said we were broke. They referred to the inability of this Government to meet any further increases. This seems similar to a development we had earlier this year when we had the famous equal pay saga. Late in 1975 the Minister was probably told by his colleagues that there was no money to meet the principle of the 1974 Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Bill. The  public sector would have to be denied their rights under that legislation. In typical fashion, he began to hide behind the private sector, to plead and quote the private sector as the reason why he was looking for a derogation, why he was back-tracking, why he was ceding his title as champion of women's rights. Yet, when the first step had been taken by this House he tried to rat on what had been conceded.
I understand from what he said this morning that the principles of that Bill eliminating all discrimination between men and women are now being implemented in the public sector, but it is tragic it took so long. The European Commission had to tell him what he had to do under home and European legislation. This kind of fire brigade disaster we are going through is further highlighted by the Minister speaking in Dáil Éireann today, the democratically elected institution of this country, and not once referring to the national wage agreement and its problems. Is it that he was not in a position to speak about it? Is it that he had no agreement from his colleagues to speak on it? Is it that he had no idea of what is happening? There must be some reason why the Minister presently charged with the responsibility for Labour should today, 26th May, 1976, when a national wage agreement is being negotiated for such a long time, should not even refer to it in his speech. I fully appreciate the seriousness and the importance of the situation.
The Government should never have been involved in these negotiations from an early stage. We have been criticised in this House for referring to the British budget. How thick can that cottonwool pack get? If you look at the British economy which is so like ours, and which is experiencing similar difficulties, you will see the performance of their Chancellor who is faced with similar difficulties as our Minister for Finance. He has created a respectable climate where moderation can be exercised as distinct from our Minister for Finance who says to the workers: “I am giving a blanket  increase in the cost of living across the board in all the vital commodities that affect you, and I want you to take a pay pause.” Of course, there was no way that could be accepted.
Our party were, and still are, committed to the national wage agreement concept. I wish the talks well. I sincerely hope they succeed. It is important for our future that they succeed. I know the people involved on all sides are very responsible. It is a good job that we have at least two bodies that are responsible when we have such an irresponsible Government. Not only do they not know what they are doing but, in my opinion, they have no will to try to do the right thing. One would think at times that some of the Ministers are determined to wreck the economy before they leave office in the usual disgraceful way Coalition Governments have left office in the past. For them this end is now inevitable—and it is not too far distant either.
I referred to the saga of equal pay. I suppose when a champion loses his title he loses a bit of integrity as well. This morning the Minister spoke of his efforts on behalf of women, as though he had championed every single right along the way. We know that there is legislation pending since October or November, 1975, which has not yet been advanced to Second Stage. It was introduced prior to the Mayo by-election and it is rather strange that it was not referred to to any great extent until just before two more by-elections. This may be accidental; it may be the Minister's way of appealing to the electorate that he is still there and doing his job.
The Minister also referred to the Women's Representative Committee, to their efforts during the past year and to their continuing efforts now. However, he informed the House recently that the Government spent approximately £10,000 on International Women's Year. That amount seems a small figure in the light of present day costs. It does not seem that the Minister was so sincere when it came to the purse. This is particularly obvious when one looks at the propaganda machine operated by the  Government, where the director of the Government Information Services gets more than £10,000, the amount spent by the Government in International Women's Year. This proves that the Minister is just paying lip service in order to sound popular. He has betrayed his commitment and he will continue to do this despite any other statements he may make. The Minister also referred to career information——
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I have offered no disparagement and I completely deny the Minister's allegation. I have spoken about the Government's priorities in the way of financial commitments. I have not spoken disparagingly about anyone and it is not my intention to do so, either in this House or outside it.
I was glad the Minister referred to the important matter of career information. However, I want to know from him if this is another question of lip service. In the Estimate the expenditure on career information in 1975 was £5,000 and the same amount is provided for this item in 1976. There is no improvement here. Perhaps the Minister will explain what has happened? It may be covered under some other heading. I endorse all the Minister had to say regarding the importance of career guidance. It is essential that it be done in conjunction with education. In view of the gas explorations and the hoped-for oil explorations it is important that career guidance be directed in such a way that technical skills may be encouraged. We must not forget that there are very many university graduates desperately seeking employment, with little or no opportunities available. I will deal with the oil and gas situation later.
The Minister has made so many promises in the last three-and-a-half years that it is difficult to expect us to believe any of them, or to believe in what legislation may or may not be introduced. It is understandable in view of the by-elections,  and particularly having regard to the Minister's statements in this House a number of years ago, that he should like to make nice noises at the time of an Estimate debate. I refer particularly to his references to the 1955 Act on safety and to his comments on the safety, health and welfare of workers. This is an area of vital importance. I will quote from the Official Report, dated 6th November, 1969, column 368, on the Estimate for the Department of Labour. The Minister who was then in Opposition was referring to the updating of the 1936 Act— there is still a lot in that Act that needs updating—and he stated:
Should not a Government that is so proud to proclaim its concern and sympathy for workers have done something to update that Act since 1936? This is 1969. The same applies to the Factories Act, 1955, which is only a copy of the 1937 Act in Britain.
The Minister has not been consistent. He has been in office for nearly three-and-a-half years and it is only now that he is making promises regarding the updating of the Act. With our industrial development and the hoped-for offshore development, it is tantamount to criminal negligence that he has failed to provide any new statutory protection for workers. This applies to factory, building and dock workers and it applies even more to the exploration work off our coasts. We know that the safety health regulations there bear no relation to modern techniques. I commend the inspectorate of the Department for what they have done and I want to encourage them to do more. They must get assistance to do a very important and difficult job. There is a high incidence of industrial accidents and huge awards have been paid out in court, all affecting our economic structure. Regulations have to be updated and it is strange that now we are told the Minister intends to update them.
There is quite an amount of legislation floating around which has been with us for a long time. One of the main pieces of legislation is the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Bill, 1974. It has been lying around in  the Seanad since February or March, 1975, approximately 15 months ago. We were not given any explanation why the Bill has been in the Seanad for so long. Is the Minister having a rethink about the matter? Is he being prompted from somewhere that it should not be introduced? Are some vested interests whispering in his ear that the Bill which deals with the protection of young persons is not desirable? If that is the case the Minister is doing a disservice to the young people. It is difficult for us to reconcile his expressions of faith and his promises with performance. When he promises something on the updating of the 1955 safety Act one would be inclined to wonder if that promise will meet with the same fate as the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Bill and the Bill on discrimination against women introduced in 1975.
We supported the Bill on trade union amalgamation which was introduced in 1975. I support the necessity for a strong, virile and active trade union movement. The necessity is great for rationalisation and amalgamation. I support the Minister's approach in this regard. It must be encouraged but it is important that it is expedited and this is admitted in trade union circles and everywhere else. Everybody wants progress made as soon as possible on this important matter. The Minister made many promises on the question of worker participation, but it has taken a long time for him to carry out the simple operation he has done, to introduce legislation to put employee representatives on State boards. I support the move but it is not enough. It is a departure for the Government because if this legislation was not put through the House we would have a continuance of the type of appointments to these boards as has been the practice since the Government assumed office.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: The Minister is again trying to twist what I said. I  support the move but it is a departure from what the Minister and the Government have been doing in the past, appointing party friends to these positions.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: It did not seem to matter whether such people were qualified for such appointments. It is possible that the recent difficulties experienced are directly related to the type of people the Minister has been appointing to these boards. I support the existence of employee representatives on State boards but progress in this regard has been too slow. Obviously, the Minister has lost the initiative and drive he had in Opposition. There is a need for encouragement of this development. Many firms would have been saved had there been better communication between the shop floor and the management. The breakdown in communications has helped to expedite the collapse of some companies who, perhaps through pride or delaying tactics by Government agencies, could have been saved from collapse had money been made available in time. However, in many cases the work force were not aware of the situation until it was too late.
The Minister referred to the desirability of having more information on redundancies. I agree with him in this regard but information is no good unless action is taken. It is deplorable that people from outside our shores can make a decision making hundreds of people redundant. I call on the Minister to intervene in the industry in Dublin where this will happen in the next three or four weeks. There are many economic and social reasons why this should be prevented. If the Minister feels he does not have sufficient power under existing legislation I assure him that my party will support any measures to help if such a situation arises in any part of the country regarding employment and jobs.
I hope before the Minister produces the legislation in relation to the  employment premium programme he will bear in mind what I had to say about that. The Minister's speech was highlighted by the fact that he spoke at length about areas where he felt some political kudos could be gained. He skipped briefly over the serious areas in which he has created monsters and crises, for instance, the early warning unit which was set up in his Department and which was intended to warn us of disputes, particularly in areas of public utility. It is possible that the absence of RTE and radio may not be a serious loss to the people in the Minister's constituency, and the Dublin area, but I can assure the House that its absence is felt in most other parts of the country. Where was the early warning system in regard to this dispute? Is there any truth in the rumour that those involved in this unit are not recognised by any of the negotiating bodies? Will the Minister spell out the terms of reference of this unit? Are they on negotiating or speaking terms with trade unions? Is their presence resented by many people? We should be given replies to those questions. I suspected for a long time that the unit was designed to screen or push into the background the disgraceful happenings that took place last autumn with the switching of the chief conciliation officer of the Labour Court and the shenanigans that followed. We all remember that the Minister had to eat humble pie for an obvious mistake at that time. No Government Department could make progress with the Minister's type of management in that Department over the past 15 months.
Industrial relations are of immense importance and if they are not operating within the Department, or are not operated by the Minister who is responsible for industrial relations, there is no hope that the system can work. It is time that the RTE dispute was ended because the absence of programmes from that station is a great loss to many people. Many people now have to depend on the daily newspapers.
I have not yet referred to the manpower  service because I pity its administrators at present particularly because of the lack of job opportunities for boys and girls or anybody who becomes unemployed. Public representatives and many others have pestered AnCO offices throughout the country. They are a credit to the Department for the way they have tried to deal with an impossible situation. It is time the Minister appreciated their efforts and took positive steps to do something about providing job opportunities so that they can get some break in the nightmare they have been enduring. I do not think this is too much to hope for from a man who promised so much. I have already spelled out many areas that I thought should have been tackled. The actual number unemployed will exceed 200,000 in a few weeks' time. We must face the problem. I have called already for emergency action and decision in what I believe to be this national crisis but there is a vast difference between what this Government do in such situations and what the previous Government did. Although I can only remember it as a child, the war years represented the period of greatest difficulty in this country and the preservation of our neutrality was a great achievement. Still greater was the performance then of the man who was appointed Minister for Supplies with specific responsibility in that field. The Minister may mock or laugh——
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I think this is a very serious subject and I am sorry if the Minister is not concerned about the employment situation; I certainly am and I think he should be. The appointment of a Minister for Supplies in that emergency situation was a major step. He had specific responsibility. I have repeatedly said that the present critical situation requires a man with specific responsibility in the area of employment whether for six months or 12 months. The Taoiseach has erred in not having already appointed one Minister with the sole duty and responsibility of dealing with  unemployment, our greatest problem. It involves the short-term provision of jobs.
The community employment programme was glossed over by the Minister who made it sound very real and nice but nobody contradicted me when I said that only 28 people are already employed on that programme. There are schemes in the pipeline but we have moved very slowly in this regard. This community youth employment scheme should have been off the ground long ago. Too much time has been allowed to pass. Today the Minister did not refer to a specific figure. Various figures were suggested by himself, his Department and by AnCO but we have not been contradicted in saying that only 28 are so far employed.
We are all pleased and extremely grateful that gas has been found off our coast and we are hopeful that oil will also be found although in one of yesterday's evening papers a commentator suggested there was doubt about oil being available in the Celtic Sea. We sincerely hope it is there— we are not sure and we must wait to find out—but we are sure that exploration is being carried out. For the benefit of our people we must maximise the benefits to be gained from exploration, maximise the number of jobs we can get on the exploration rigs. We had an experience recently where an effort was made not to employ a small Cork crew, a small percentage of the entire crew of the rig, although the agency had instructions to take them on, because cheaper Scottish labour was available. Obviously, without training we shall have neither skilled nor semi-skilled personnel to take even a small percentage of places in the rigs comng here later this year. We have people with the capacity and the capability to perform any job. I shall not go again into what has happened in recent months but the way the Government have so often turned their backs on industry is regrettable because in most areas, whether at top or bottom, our people can equal those of any country. This has been proved by them in the past within industry in every country in the world.
 Similarly, we have people who, if they had training opportunities, could take their places on those rigs not as hewers of wood or drawers of water; they would be trained. But it is too late to train people when the exploration is over. The time to train them is before it starts. We must maximise the benefits for ourselves. We are sure that there is exploration; we hope there is oil. In fact, I believe the Government have gambled a good deal on oil being found in economic quantities. While the exploration is going on we must ensure that we as a nation will gain all we possibly can out of it.
May I ask him for evidence as to where that has been done by this Government and when? It is not enough to produce figures which show an increase on those in 1975 because 1975 costs, and no one knows this better than the Minister for Local Government who has just come in, bear no relation whatsoever to costs two, three or four years ago.
A significant proportion of the public expenditure in the current year which comes under the control of the Department of Labour is aimed at ensuring that those who are without jobs as a result of the present recession are given the opportunity during the period of unemployment to increase the range of their skills.
I must correct the Minister here. I proved him wrong earlier on. The unemployed are without jobs not because of the present recession but because of the lack of ability on the part of the Government in managing the affairs of the State.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Unemployment is a very serious matter. I have already quoted many people—if the Minister likes to read the debate he will find what I said—who are not of the Fianna Fáil persuasion at all who have said that the reason for the present mess is Government mismanagement. I am sure the Minister has read these comments and it is not necessary for me to quote them again.
I agree with the idea of training but there must be an outlet for people when they are trained. We must be able to put them somewhere. The Minister said that unemployment is now the major social evil in every EEC country and Ireland is no exception. Would the Minister face reality and realise that it is worse here than anywhere else? Why? Because no effort is made to cope with the situation.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: The Minister spoke about the employment premium programme. I hope the services industries will be included and an opportunity given to school leavers. I have dealt with women's rights. We will, of course, support the measures the Minister will be introducing. I would encourage him to look further at the private sector because I am convinced that in that area the time has come when the Government must encourage development and, indeed, go even a bit further and think in terms of capital growth sharing.
I was interested in the Minister's reference to the necessity for education  and advisory services within the trade union movement and his commitment to those of £150,000 this year. He did not mention that that figure is the same as the figure last year and worth considerably less because of increasing costs and the fall in the value of money.
Why is there a cutback in the grant for advisory services for emigrants? Is there some specific reason for that? If there is I should like to know what it is. It is desirable the House should be aware of why this reduction has taken place.
I have covered the main areas mentioned by the Minister. The next question is the future of the Department. How does one see it in the hoped-for changing economic climate? The Minister for Labour's first move has to be towards greater employment, to maximise, in close co-operation particularly with the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the employment opportunities from whatever there are, whether it be in relation to gas and oil, directly or indirectly, the production of fertiliser or the building of ships. We must ensure that Ireland gets the basic opportunities, just like Spain, who, when they build an ammonia or a urea plant insist that it is their own firms who construct it. There is expertise in this country equal to or better than that in most other countries.
The Minister must face up to the employment question first. I have commended AnCO and the work they are doing, but they cannot go on forever, because eventually we will be training people for no opportunity or for export, if export opportunities exist. The National Manpower Service must be very confused and disilusioned. Obviously, from the figures given to us this morning, there is only one reason why the National Manpower Service have succeeded in keeping up the figures for the numbers of people for whom they find employment, that is, that more vacancies are being channelled into them. This of course is thanks to the people administering the National Manpower Service. However, if our economy had  been handled correctly there should be a big increase year by year in the number of people they would be channelling into employment. It would also remove from them the overloaded burden and the hopeless situation that can arise for them.
I have said in the past to the Minister that this party will support any moves by him, will combine in any effort with him, to examine the unemployment situation. I have already suggested to him that, with the appointment of a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary with a specific responsibility in this field, an action committee responsible to the Government of course, be set up drawn from all sides of the social partnership, the employer organisations and trade union organisations, the unemployed, the financial institutions and banks, with the main object of co-operating with those now responsible for the community youth project. The functions of this committee would not be confined to youth or to old people in the employment field; they would be looking for chances for everybody and trying to create them.
This is not impossible, because I was reading this morning about a deputation, which included Deputy Moore, from Dublin Corporation yesterday, to the Minister for Local Government regarding redundancies there. I can produce evidence of redundancies in the local authority in my own county. Surely this is the wrong time to allow redundancies in such bodies. I am sure the financial situation in Cork is typical of that in every other county. In the roads area there, the only promise that can be made is that the existing workforce will be retained until the year's end, that no new persons will be taken on for those retiring, and goodness knows our workforce in Cork has diminished considerably in recent years. In the cottage and house repair section there are redundancies. This is not confined to Cork, but the Minister should encourage the absorption of these redundant workers, say, in the building of one-off houses as is being done in many counties. It is difficult enough to get a contractor to do the one-off  house, and they are expensive enough as well. In order to preserve that workforce, why can this not be done by direct labour?
These are areas I would envisage the action committee examining. There are many others I would point out to them, as I have done in the past There is so much productive work that can be done around the country. People's morale is slipping. There are young people who are going to become employable and, because of lack of opportunity, they will involve themselves in the wrong type of activities that scares the father and mother. It also gives little hope to those following on at school. This is the greatest evil we are facing and this is the one that the Minister and his colleagues have shied away from and have shown no concern for. Future generations will judge the Minister by his failure to look at that social evil, and social evil it is. There is frustration in every home. I have seen parents, supporters of the Minister's party, outside the church gates condemning their policies completely because of lack of opportunity for their sons or daughters.
Despite free education given to so many people by this party's Minister for Education, a burden is placed on the homes that send those boys and girls to school. There is the young lad now aged 19 or 20 who fails to get a job; his brother or sister is leaving school this year, but there may be two or three younger children behind. Their morale is also shattered. The Government are creating a group of people to whom they are offering no hope and whom they are encouraging to do things that none of us want to see them doing. The danger is that they are moving towards alcoholism, drug addiction or worse, subversion. These are good, responsible young people who will react to prompting, to guidance and to leadership, but we have not had leadership from this Government. Until there is leadership and courageous action and until appreciation and concern are shown for the plight of those young people, who may also have fathers or mothers in the dole queue, the outlook is dismal. The solution is not by paying out money to those people. That is not  what the average person wants. People want work because they are independent, strong-willed people. They know their own mind. They do not want to be serfs or dependent on a hand-out which has become the only solution this Government have offered to the employment situation.
Mr. Moore: In my gullibility or in my optimism I came here this morning hoping for a radical document from the Government because of the frightful state of the economy and particularly the unemployment figures. What we got was a very conservative document showing little original thinking and giving no grounds whatever for instilling any confidence in the parents of boys or girls who are seeking employment, or, indeed in any of the 120,000 people who are registered at the employment exchanges. This was a time when the Government could have come forth with some radical proposals to boost the morale of the people and to offer some hope that we could get out of the economic morass into which the Government have led us.
Three years ago at the formation of this Government, many promises were made and the trumpets sounded the coming of the Government of all the talents. Therefore if there is cynicism in the hearts of the people today we can place the blame on the shoulders of the Government. The Coalition Government remind me of a plant called a “morning glory”. The “morning glory” is in that category of plants that blooms early in the morning. It is a thing of beauty then, but as the day goes on it starts to wilt, by sunset it has wilted completely and the plant then dies. No matter what the elements may do, whether it is the rain or the wind, the heat or anything else, nothing will revive that plant. I see the Government as being similar to a “morning glory”. They started off with all kinds of promises, telling  us what they would do and how much better they would do it compared with the Fianna Fáil Government. Their arguments convinced the people and they took power. As Deputy Fitzgerald just mentioned, we shall shortly have about 200,000 people unemployed. That gives us no satisfaction on this side of the House. It renews our determination to show the people what can be done to remedy the disastrous situation. The first step is the replacement of the Government.
I mentioned earlier that I thought we would have an emergency document and, talking about emergencies, I remember when the Government were on this side of the House they called daily for the declaration of a housing emergency. I never knew what they meant by this and I do not think they knew either, but today we can say we have a housing emergency. There are thousands of our building craftsmen and workers queueing at the employment exchanges; there are thousands on the housing waiting list.
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