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Over 6,000 Signatures in 24 hours to Save the Minimum Wage

PRESS STATEMENT: 9 December 2010

Claiming Our Future

Government Attempts to Fast-Track Legislation to Slash the Minimum Wage

Today a group of minimum wage workers, along with community organisations and trade unions, demonstrated against government plans to cut the minimum wage. Workers presented a petition to opposition TDs with six thousand signatures gathered over the last 24 hours, asking them to vote against proposals to cut the minimum wage to €7.65 in the Financial Emergency Measures Bill before the Dáil today and tomorrow.

Siobhán O’Donoghue of the Claiming Our Future movement said, “The government is rapidly moving to ram through a serious cut to the national minimum wage. The proposed cut would slash €40 a week from the household budgets of tens of thousands of working families across Ireland - families that are already struggling to make ends meet.

“Economists and basic common sense tell us there is no need for this cut -- and even the IMF agrees. It will not generate any new jobs, nor will it help to reduce the government deficit, on the contrary it will push more families onto social welfare. This is just one more attempt to force the most vulnerable people of Ireland to pay the price for greed and incompetence at the top. Enough is enough - it's time to draw a line.”

Workers handing over the petitions were met by a number of front bench TDs from Fine Gael, the Labour party and Sinn Féin.  Speaking after handing over the petition, minimum wage worker, Miranda, said, “On behalf of minimum wage workers we are asking our public representatives to vote against the cut to the minimum wage. If my wages are cut, I will not be able to pay my rent.  I will have no choice but to turn to social welfare for assistance.”

Ms O’Donoghue continued, “In difficult times, we know it's right to support working families, not to pull the rug out from under them. The government knows the minimum wage cut is unnecessary and unrelated to the budget crisis, and that's exactly why they're trying to jam it through obscure legal back-channels. The government does have other options to address the constraints being faced by small and medium enterprises, such as tackling the fixed costs that are crippling businesses.”

“We refuse to accept that this unnecessary and savage attack on the lowest paid will be allowed to become law in this society.  The public at large are appalled by the announcement that this was the government’s intention.  There is a threshold of decency that we will not allow our society to cross.”

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See more information & petition at www.claimingourfuture.ie