New Companies Bill damaging to workers’ rights - Healy

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A new Companies Bill marks a “seismic shift” which will prove seriously damaging to workers’ rights, particularly the rights of women workers, South Tipperary Independent Deputy Seamus Healy told the Dáil.

A new Companies Bill marks a “seismic shift” which will prove seriously damaging to workers’ rights, particularly the rights of women workers, South Tipperary Independent Deputy Seamus Healy told the Dáil.

“Giving a company the legal personality of a natural person is unprecedented,” he said. “It is hard to understand and believe Cabinet members who were formerly trade union officials, including the Tánaiste, could leave this provision through the Cabinet.”

That culture of light touch regulation has had devastating effects on Irish society and business and on workers and their families. There have been six austerity budgets, annual or more frequent cuts to services, huge tax increases and significant job losses and emigration,” he said.

“Unemployment stands at 14% with 430,000 unemployed and many people leaving the country,” he said. “The Bill should include a specific provision to ensure workers would be regarded as stakeholders for the purposes of representation on the boards of companies and, accordingly, would have the right to sit on the board. The Bill also states a LTD will no longer be obliged to go through the formality of holding an AGM, annual general meeting, whereby all members must convene at one location at the same time once a year. Instead, members will be allowed to have a written AGM, whereby all matters can be dealt with. This is an incredible provision which will have seriously damaging effects on many companies. Residents in apartment blocks run by a management company will now not have the right or entitlement to attend an AGM to hold the company to account. This is a wrong and damaging provision which should be withdrawn.”

The Bill will allow a LTD to have only one director; under the current law the minimum number has been set at two, he said. The current arrangement should remain, as it allows for necessary checks and balances.

“Provision should also be made for public interest directors with legislative teeth, not like those in some of the banks who just want to be paid and have no hand, act or part in the running or calling into account of the banks’ boards on behalf of the public,” he added.

Hayes welcomes closing of loophole on car tax legislation

The Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Bill 2013 which simplifies the rules and regulations around declaring a vehicle as off-road, was welcomed in the Dáil by Tipperary Fine Gael Deputy Tom Hayes.

At present, he said a car owner who has not paid car tax for a period of months can walk into a Garda station, fill out a form stating that the car in question was off the road for the previous few months, and have this signed by a garda. The Garda does not have to validate the declaration by the car owner and need only identify the person making it.

“This allows a car owner to avoid paying taxes in arrears for a period in question and, as he or she drives home from the station it allows him or her to laugh at everybody else who has paid their taxes,” he said. “This is clearly wrong and is a loophole that needs to be closed.”

Deputy Hayes said he had heard South Kerry Independent Deputy Healy-Rae speak on this, day in, day out.

“If he was honest and told the truth in this House, he would have to say that what is needed is more funding for each county council in the country because they are under desperate pressure,” he said. “What is needed is that €1 million. It would go a very long way in places in my constituency such as the Cahir electoral area, mountainous areas around Hollyford, areas with bad road conditions in Ballingarry and Killenaule. The list is endless yet the Deputy says we should not collect that €1 million. That much was said on the Opposition benches this morning.”

Deputy Hayes said he could not believe that in these difficult and hard times a Deputy would be so innocent and foolish as to come into this Chamber and make statements like that.

“This is €1 million that can be found and which would make the quality of lives in rural areas much better,” he added. “If roads were better this would encourage tourists into our areas. It would help people to carry their children to school and to go to work. Above all, it would save each individual taxpayer a considerable amount of money on their cars each year because bad roads lead to bad cars and higher maintenance costs. The reality is there would be €1 million available for every county council in the country. There would be many deputations to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if there were €1 million available for the coffers of county councils in any constituency.”

Deputy Hayes said it was fair for the Minister and his Department to introduce this legislation.

“It is good and fair for the taxpayer but, above all, it will be good for the roads and the local authorities in every part of Ireland,” he added.

McGrath calls for education campaign on organ donation

A huge educational effort must be made to educate everyone on the issue of organ donation, Independent Deputy Mattie McGrath told the Dáil.

Speaking on a motion tabled by the Technical Group, he said on the available figures, while they were small by international standards, Ireland has quite good ratings for what is a kind of a fledgling service.

“I salute all the hard-working consultants, nurses, voluntary groups and NGOs who work in this area and who try to ensure there is good co-operation,” he said. “While the motion calls for an implied opt-in for everyone, in tandem with an opt-out system, I have an open mind about that. There are some fears given the situation in some countries regarding organ stealing. I refer to people with money, as the dreaded word “airgead” can come in and organs can be very valuable. While this must be described as being completely reprehensible and such acts defy logic anywhere in the world, unfortunately, it has occurred and one must be absolutely sure to be sure in that regard.”

Were the system to be introduced in which everyone was deemed to have opted in but an opt-out clause system was in place, it would be necessary to run a huge education programme to educate people in order that they understood this point, he said.

He said South Kerry Deputy Tom Fleming presented figures indicating the annual cost of dialysis for patients is €70,000.

“I acknowledge it is life-saving for them and I visited the house of a lady in my constituency who has been getting dialysis for years,” he said. “While dialysis provides her with life and gives her help in respect of her quality of life, it certainly is a huge expense and a huge challenge for such patients. I note that particular patient is obliged to travel three days a week to Waterford Regional Hospital, which is quite a spin and takes a lot of time. I also have encountered some cases recently involving home dialysis, which is a wonderful achievement.”