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Ferris says report should not be basis for cutting wage rates

25 May, 2011 - by Martin Ferris TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights Martin Ferris TD has said that the report on wage rates published yesterday should not be used as the basis for allowing employers to opt out of existing agreements.

The Kerry North/Limerick West TD was responding to the recommendations of the report and to comments made by Minister Richard Bruton who said that any changes made would be in line with the IMF/EU Memorandum of Understanding which clearly envisages lowering wage levels.

Deputy Ferris said “While the report itself recommends that the ‘basic framework’ of the JLC/REA system ought to be retained, I would have concerns regarding some aspects of the report, but more so in relation to the Minister’s own response.

“Recommendation 17, for example, supports the framing of legislation that would allow for ‘derogation from the terms of an ERO or an REA on economic grounds.’ In effect what that would mean, as I pointed out when former Minister Dara Calleary proposed such a clause, is that existing agreements could simply be overridden by employers pleading an ‘inability to pay.’

“Given that there are several cases before the Labour Court already challenging the provisions of existing orders, such a provision would in effect undermine the entire structure of agreed rates and would facilitate a potential lowering of wages for several hundred thousand workers.

“The response by the Minister, and his reference to the terms of the bailout which quite plainly envisage a lowering of wages, would indicate that he is thinking in terms of facilitating such a development. That would represent a massive blow for already low paid workers and would further depress the overall economy by further reducing spending power.” ENDS

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