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Low paid must not be targeted to pay for recession – Morgan

15 July, 2008

Sinn Féin Workers' Rights Spokesperson Arthur Morgan has rejected a suggestion by the Small Firms Association that the minimum wage rate should be cut by one euro. Speaking today Deputy Morgan said it is very disappointing that the lowest paid most vulnerable workers in society are the first to be targeted in a time of recession rather than those who can actually afford it.

Deputy Morgan said, "Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that, unlike the recession of the 1980's, the burden of this recession will not fall primarily on the shoulders of the low paid.

"It is very disappointing that the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers in society are the first to be targeted in a time of recession rather than those who can actually afford to take a hit.

"It is particularly shameful of the Small Firms Association to seek to manipulate statistics in a manner which portrays our minimum wage workers as in some way well off compared to minimum wage workers in other Countries. When we take into consideration that the cost of living here is higher than the European average this makes our minimum wage workers some of the worst off in Europe. In fact, Mandate Union recently commissioned a study to show just how badly off those living on the minimum wage have been hit by the inflationary cost of living.

"There is no room for lower pay at the bottom of our pay structures and it will not solve the problems faced in this economy. Low paid workers have not caused the recession. If pay cuts are to be made they must be made by those on the upper rungs of the pay scale who themselves have driven up inflation.

"I also strongly reject the Green Party's proposals to cut employers' PRSI. Irish employers make the lowest contributions to their employees' social insurance fund in Europe. With a Social Insurance Fund under more pressure than ever, and receiving less contributions in the wake of growing unemployment, this suggestion from a Government party reeks of unbelievable economic naivety, and is the kind of thinking that drove us into our current problems.

"Small businesses must be helped to endure the recession, but cutting vital social insurance and expecting people to work for slave wages is not the way forward. We must be more imaginative in our approach to how firms can be helped ride out the current storm.

"The fact that our export market is not performing better must surely be an area that we can look at to help increase the business opportunities for small firms, and Sinn Fein suggests that relevant bodies such as Enterprise Ireland, Chambers Ireland, the Small Firms Association and the Government, currently engaged in Social Partnership Talks, take the initiative to plan how to protect Irish business without deliberately targeting the most vulnerable." ENDS

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