Press Centre

Industry’s Attack on the Lowest Paid Continues

PRESS RELEASE: 16 April 2010

Restaurant Workers Stage Protest at Supermac’s Flagship Outlet in Galway

Note: Visuals will include picket signs and banners.

Friday, 16 April
Start: 1:00pm. End: 2:00pm
Supermac’s, Eyre Square, Galway

The Restaurant Workers Action Group, established by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), is staging a protest this Friday lunchtime at the flagship Supermac’s restaurant in Galway.  Supermac’s is part of the Quick Service Food Alliance, an industry group mounting a legal challenge to the JLC (Joint Labour Committee) system which sets wages for the restaurant industry.

Supermac’s is a leading force in challenging wage protections for its workers, even though it saw its pre-tax profits quadruple last year.

Restaurant industry groups are seeking to dismantle wage protections for the lowest paid, calling for a €1 reduction in the national minimum wage; a weakening of the standards laid out in the JLC; and a challenge to the right of the JLC to determine working conditions.  Just this week, the Restaurant Association of Ireland renewed its calls to cut the national minimum wage and called for the abolition of the JLC.

According to Siobhán O’Donoghue, Director of the MRCI, “The restaurant industry is driving an attack on minimum wage rates and basic protections for workers. This is not about saving jobs - companies like Supermac’s have actually seen their profits increase dramatically, while lower-wage workers are struggling to survive.  The industry’s attack on wages for the poorest workers is shameful. Now, more than ever, we must ensure protections remain in place for those who need them most.”

The MRCI has assisted hundreds of migrant workers over the years who report exploitation and unfair treatment in restaurants.  The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) reports that an overwhelming 79% of all catering establishments inspected in 2009 were found to be out of compliance with laws governing minimum rates of pay, payment of wages, and related employment protections.

Oktay Gencoglu, a restaurant worker in Naas originally from Turkey, says, “Restaurant workers are already suffering to support our families.  Our hours have been cut and many of us have seen our wages cut too.  Any more cuts would be disastrous for us.  We are counting on the government to strengthen the JLC system and defend our wages.”

The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland is a national organisation working to promote justice, empowerment and equality for migrant workers and their families. The Restaurant Workers Action Group works to improve conditions for restaurant workers across the country.