SINN Féin TD Thomas Gould has called on the Government to explain why Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) inspectors in Cork had no manager for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Cork North Central TD’s comments come following a recent response he received to a parliamentary question from the minister for enterprise, trade, and employment on the number of WRC staff employed in Cork from March 2020 to date.
The response showed that in March 2020 there were five WRC inspectors or executive officers employed in Cork with one vacancy while the higher executive officer (inspector team manager) position was vacant.
In July 2021, the manager’s position remained vacant and according to the response, the position was “to be filled in [the] coming weeks”.
During the same period there were five inspectors and there were three vacancies.
Mr Gould said that during the period when staff were working without a manager and with three vacancies, the WRC found over 120 breaches of employment law.
“Considering the absolutely vital role the WRC has played in keeping workers safe throughout this pandemic, the failure to employ a manager or additional staff is scandalous,” he said.
“While workers in high-risk industries, such as meat factories, relied on WRC Inspectors to ensure their safety, the Government completely failed to protect the inspectors.”
He said the number of inspectors in Cork is almost half of what is needed.
“I want to send my gratitude to the inspectors in Cork who have worked through this difficult pandemic. Workers in this state are better protected when workers’ rights are a priority.
“The Government’s failure to fully resource the WRC in Cork shows where their priorities lie,” said Mr Gould.