PRESS RELEASE: 6 March 2011
Coalition to Protect the Lowest Paid
The Coalition to Protect the Lowest Paid is celebrating a significant victory regarding the agreement contained in the new Programme for Government that the cut to the minimum wage which came into effect in February will be reversed. The Coalition of trade unions and community sector organisations joined forced in November to campaign for a reversal of the €1 per hour cut to the National Minimum Wage, and to protect minimum wages and conditions set for workers in specific low-paid sectors such as contract cleaning, catering and retail which have recently come under review* by the Government. (See Note for Editors).
“This victory is as a result of a hard fought and organised campaign by workers, trade unions and community organisations to change unjust and cruel policies that were introduced by the last Government,” says John Douglas, General Secretary of Mandate. “Once the new Minister is appointed, an order can be made to change the rate from €7.65 back to €8.65. There is no reason that this reversal should not happen immediately following this appointment.”
“This is a victory for hard working people who the previous government felt were an easy target in a campaign to reduce wages across the board,” said UNITE Regional Co-ordinator, Walter Cullen. “When community groups, trade unions and working people come together their collective voice can be heard louder and clearer than on their own and a fair outcome achieved.”
"The reversal of the cut to the Minimum Wage will restore €40 a week to the household budgets of tens of thousands of working families across Ireland - families struggling to make ends meet, even more so with the additional taxes being taken from their weekly pay cheques," says Anne Costello, spokeswoman for the Community Platform.
"While most people were aware of the cut to the minimum wage and the campaign to reverse it, most are not aware that the Government is currently undertaking a review of the minimum wages and conditions set by agreements for specific sectors, such as retail and contract cleaning," says Ethel Buckley, Campaign Co-ordinator, SIPTU. "We must now ensure that low paid workers covered by sector based minimum wage agreements are equally protected from cuts to their wages and conditions.”
"Today we saw the first steps taken to re-building a better Ireland in the name of the thousands of low paid workers who depend on the minimum wage to support their families," says Siobhan O’Donoghue, Director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland.
The Coalition to Protect the Lowest Paid includes SIPTU, MANDATE, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, The Poor Can't Pay Campaign, The Community Platform, UNITE , The National Women's Council of Ireland and the European Anti-Poverty Network - Ireland.
*Notes for Editors:
1. Review of Employment Regulation Orders (EROs)
The government, as part of the National Recovery Plan announced in November 2010, decided to undertake a review of Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) which set minimum rates of pay and conditions for thousands of workers in Ireland in specific sectors of employment. Currently, there are 18 EROs in existence covering up to 300,000 workers. Some sectors in which workers are covered by EROs include agriculture, contract cleaning, catering, hotels, and retail grocery and allied trades. EROs are made by the Labour Court and are based on agreements of Joint Labour Committees (JLCs). JLCs are independent bodies made up of equal numbers of employer and worker representatives appointed by the Labour Court with a chairperson appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. JLCs meet regularly to review and agree the EROs. The terms of reference of the formal review of EROs was announced on 10 February 2011 by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Mary Hanafin, TD. For more information on EROs and JLCs see: www.labourcourt.ie