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Ferris claims jobs strategy is based on lowering wages

12 May, 2011 - by Martin Ferris TD

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights Martin Ferris TD has claimed that employment strategy under the terms of the IMF/EU deal is based on undermining wage rates.

Speaking during the debate on Government’s Jobs Initiative, the Kerry North/Limerick West TD said that the intent behind the review of existing wage agreements, as pressed for by the IMF, was to allow employers to pay below agreed rates.

Deputy Ferris said:

“The simple fact of the matter is that by agreeing to continue to implement the IMF/EU austerity programme, both parties have been forced to abandon their no doubt genuine desire to have tackled the unemployment problem in a more meaningful way.

“The reason they have been forced to do so is that the IMF and the EU has no interest in the sort of stimulus package that would help to get us out of this mess and is insistent that whatever money is floating around will be used to pay off the debt.

“Indeed it is apparent from the updated agenda underlying the ironically named IMF/EU stability programme that was published last week that they do not envisage any real improvement in the jobs situation.

“They state bluntly on page 13 of the update that ‘the unemployment rate is set to remain high over the forecast horizon.’

“That is despite the fact that the IMF takes a fairly positive view of global economic growth which it is forecast will be reflected within Europe over the next few years. Unfortunately the benefit of any such upturn will not accrue to those in this state who will remain on the dole, whose wages will remain under attack, and whose overall standard of living will continue to fall as we remain indentured to the bank debt.

“It would also appear that the IMF and EU believe that whatever employment growth might come about will come about not as the consequence of a stimulus package but through cutting wages. It will be interesting then to hear what the Government’s response will be to the current review of Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements if it as expected recommends that employers be allowed opt out of agreements setting wage rates for 300,000 mainly low paid workers.

“The publication of that review, which I understand is already in the hands of Minister Bruton, comes at a time when low wage employers in the fast food sector are awaiting a High court decision on their application to opt out of the ERO in the catering sector and there are other similar applications pending.

“It is clear then that both the IMF/EU and the employers’ organisations expect that the reversal of the cut to the National Minimum Wage will be offset by the undermining of the structures and agreements in place to protect other low paid workers.

“If the review complies with the clear intent of the IMF, as stated at the time of the bailout, to ‘review with a view to elimination’ of the wage orders, then the race to the bottom will begin in earnest.”

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