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Record-breaking year for Irish tourism should mean improved pay and conditions – Quinlivan

29 December, 2016 - by Maurice Quinlivan TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD has called on the Government to urge the Hotel, Restaurant and Vintners Federations to engage with the Joint Labour Committees with a view to regulating pay and conditions in the hospitality sector.

 Deputy Quinlivan said: “According to Tourism Ireland 2016 has been a record-breaking year, with well in excess of 10 million visitors coming to Ireland, they spent €5.4 billion during their stay and 2017 looks like being ever better. Clearly the hospitality sector is an important part of the Irish economy. It is now experiencing growth and there are over 137,000 people employed in it, with more than 23,000 jobs created since 2011 – aided largely by the low 9 percent vat rate. However, the current success of the Industry suggests that the 9% rate is no longer necessary.”

“The hotel occupancy in Dublin reached record levels this year at 82 per cent, and on Saturdays occupancy rates climbed to 90 per cent with demand in the capital expected to remain quite high into 2017 due to a hotel bed shortage. According to the Irish Hotel Federation earlier in the year it said the national hotel occupancy rate is at a 10 year high and 82% of hoteliers across the state have benefited from the boom.”

 “Yet the reality of life for many people working in the sector is long hours, poor working conditions and low pay. So, whilst job creation and the record breaking year is very welcome, there is a serious question about the quality of these jobs and this need to be addressed.

 “Of the 137,000 workers employed in Accommodation and Food Services more than 50 % earn less than 400 Euros per week; 17% of all employees in the sector only earned the national minimum hourly wage while 41% of workers are part-time and 59% full-time.

 “Indeed while €697.52 Euros is the weekly average wage in the hospitality sector the average wage is €324.86 with TASC recently describing the sector as characterised by what are effectively zero-hours contracts.

 “Ireland is a deeply unequal society where the work of service workers, predominantly women is undervalued and underpaid. The refusal by employers in the sector to participate in the JLC structure and agree terms on pay and conditions is not acceptable when they are in receipt of massive amounts of public money via the reduced vat rate which is badly needed elsewhere.   

 Sinn Féin in our pre-budget submission suggested the removal of 9% VAT rate on hotel beds.  This removal would not affect bars and restaurants including those in hotels and would have raised a potential €175 Million in much needed additional taxes for a sector which is now doing very well.

 “I am calling on the Minister to request that the hospitality sector now engages with the JLC’s and the introduction of Employment Regulation Orders.” 

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