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Government attempt to cut minimum wage an attack on Ireland’s working poor – Ferris

11 February, 2010 - by Martin Ferris TD

Sinn Féin Workers’ Rights Spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has said the attempt by the Government to amend the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2009 in order to cut minimum wage rates is an attack on Ireland’s working poor.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon Deputy Ferris said the Government, at the behest of ISME and IBEC and their friends, have put manners on the ‘big bad’ public servants.

Deputy Ferris said:

“The whole context of this Bill indeed has changed since it was indicated that the Minister intends to amend it to allow employers to pay less than the minimum wage, and the minimum agreed rates in other sectors under Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements on the basis that companies can claim an ‘inability to pay.’

“There are an estimated 300,000 workers who will potentially have their wages cut if that happens. These are people who are already surviving on well below the average industrial wage and many of whom could be described as the ‘working poor’, people who despite working hard find it difficult to meet their mortgages, rents and bill payments.

“And of course now that this Government, at the behest of ISME and IBEC and their friends, have put manners on the big bad public servants; the ushers and bar staff and secretarial assistants and restaurant workers in this place for example, who unbeknownst to themselves were responsible for the recession, now that they have put them in their place, they are going after the minimum wage.

“At least people in the public sector are unionised and have the means to resist the attacks upon them. Many in low wage sectors such as security, hairdressing, hotels, pubs and so on are not and are therefore more vulnerable to their wages and conditions being undermined.

“And if this legislation, designed originally to protect workers in such situations, is amended in the manner proposed then they will have no legal protections against their wages being driven below the minimum rates and the legal protections will count for nothing.

“That is why it is vital that any attempt to amend this bill in order to cut the minimum wage rates for the lowest paid workers in this state is opposed and defeated.” ENDS

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