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Additional half per cent for low paid in partnership deal derisory - Morgan

15 June, 2006

Sinn Féin Employment spokesperson Arthur Morgan T.D. said that while Sinn Féin welcomed many of measures in the new social partnership deal particularly in relation to conditions of employment “workers should not have had to bargain for the basic right to be free from exploitation”. Deputy Morgan described the additional half per cent increase for low paid workers as “derisory”.                  

Deputy Morgan said, “While I have yet to examine the full contents of the social partnership deal I welcome the fact that it includes measures to improve enforcement of labour law.  However it must be said that it is totally wrong that vulnerable workers have had to await the outcome of a social partnership deal before seeing their existing rights enforced.  It is abhorrent that proper enforcement of existing labour law should be seen as a concession to unions or used as a bargaining chip in negotiations.  This – the requirement for workers to bargain for basic rights and entitlements  – is, along with the democratic deficit created by the process taking precedence  over the Dáil, among the fundamentals flaws of the social partnership process.

“In relation to the pay element of the deal, at a time of growing income differentials between the highest and the lowest paid workers the additional measly half per cent increase for low paid workers is derisory.  A recent NESC report found that in the 26 counties the richest 20% of the working age population now earns 12 times as much as the poorest - one of the highest levels of market income inequality amongst OECD countries. The same report found that nearly 14% of households in poverty are now headed by those with a job, a rate that has doubled over the last decade.     While increases contained in the new deal may seem significant to some it must be remembered that low paid workers lose where, as in this agreement, percentage wage increases are applied. A 10% pay increase amounts to a significantly larger sum for higher paid workers compared to what it means for low paid workers.  Where are the measures to reduce wage differentials between the highest and lowest paid workers? These should have been at the core of the any agreement dealing with pay.” ENDS

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