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New round of pay talks must deal with low pay – Morgan

15 February, 2008

Speaking in advance of the first meeting of the social partners on a new pay agreement Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers Rights Arthur Morgan TD, claimed the Government has a serious credibility problem going into the talks. Morgan said it is crucial that the talks address the issue of low pay.

Arthur Morgan said, "The Government has a credibility problem going into the new round pay talks. They are calling on ordinary workers to exercise wage restraint while sanctioning benchmarking rises for those on the highest incomes.

"The Government has failed to live up to key commitments in the most recent agreement 'Towards 2016'. For example they have failed to deliver on commitments to deal with worker exploitation - at the end of 2007 only 50 of the 90 labour inspectors promised by that date were delivered. The issue of agency workers has not been dealt with and as a consequence existing terms and conditions of employment in many sectors of the economy are being seriously undermined.

"'Towards 2016', like its predecessors, failed to deal with the issue of low pay. Additionally general pay rises were not adequate to keep pace with inflation. This round of pay talks must deal with the issue of low pay. The growing disparities between the highest and lowest paid will undoubtedly increase the pressure in this regard.

"If this round of pay talks does not deal with the plight of the low paid other unions may find themselves following the example of Mandate which felt compelled to withdraw from the process and independently pursue pay rises for its largely low paid female membership in the retail sector.

"The issue of local bargaining clauses and the issue of trade union recognition will also undoubtedly be raised by the trade unions and it is important that these issues are addressed." ENDS

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