The Labour Party has proposed a range of new measures to protect employment standards against a so-called ‘race to the bottom’.

The concerns have been fuelled by the recent dispute at Irish Ferries and the treatment of Turkish construction workers employed by Gama Management.

The Labour Party leader, Pat Rabbitte, said that unless employment standards were protected, it might become necessary to introduce employment permits for workers coming from the new EU member states. 

Among the party's proposals are more labour inspectors, the extension of the equality legislation to people in domestic service and a requirement on contractors for local authorities and public bodies to meet minimum labour standards.

Mr Rabbitte said the labour market needed to be properly regulated.