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Government must resist pressure to cut wages of low paid workers – Cullinane

26 May, 2011

Sinn Féin’s newly appointed Spokesperson on Workers’ Rights Senator David Cullinane has welcomed the publication of the Report on wage rates covered by ERO’s and REA’s but has warned against the Minister departing from the reports main recommendations.

Senator Cullinane said the proposals from the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton make clear his intention to cut the wages of lower paid workers. He also questioned whether a rift was emerging within Government on the issue

Speaking from Leinster House today Senator David Cullinane said:

“I welcome the publication of the report into wage rates covered by ERO’s and REA’s. We have consistently said that the report must not be about reducing the pay or terms of conditions of employment for hundreds of thousands of low paid workers. Nor should it be used to allow employers to opt out of existing agreements.

“Any cut to the ERO’s will have profound social consequences and will drive down the pay of over 300,000 low paid workers already struggling to make ends meet.

“The Labour Party campaigned in the recent election on a platform of protecting low paid workers and their families. Joan Burton and others in Government repeatedly made the point that current social welfare rates acted as a disincentive to work. Surely cutting the pay of low paid workers will act as an ever greater impediment and is not the way to bring about sustained economic recovery.

“The Government need to realise that cuts in pay or social welfare are counterproductive and damaging to our economy. Reducing the spending power of 300,000 workers will result in a drop-off of consumer spending and will further hurt service, retail and hospitality sectors.

“It is ironic that these are the very areas where those covered by ERO’s and REA’s are employed. It would seem that the Minister is pandering to employer organisations such as IBEC whose agenda is to cut pay and drive down the terms and conditions of working people.

“I am appealing to the Minister not to pander to such vested interests and resist from allowing for derogation from the terms of the ERO and REA’s on economic grounds. Such a move would see existing agreements undermined and would facilitate a potential lowering of wages for several hundred thousand workers.

“I am especially appealing to the Labour Party to stand by their pre-election promise of protecting the most vulnerable in our society including low paid workers and not allow the Minister to go beyond the recommendations of the report.” ENDS

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