Press Centre

Protecting people not greedy business must be government’s priority

PRESS RELEASE: 28 July 2011

‘Cutting through the spin and statement made by Minister Bruton leaves little doubt that the incomes of the lowest paid workers will suffer’ said Siobhán O’ Donoghue of the Coalition to Protect the Lowest Paid.  ‘This low road our government has chosen to go down will hurt not help the economy.  Consumption will be damaged even further, tax revenue will fall and the working poor forced to turn to the state for support if the wages of the low paid are cut even more’ she said.

‘Many in the business lobby campaigning for reduction in wages including Sunday premium have healthy profit margins.  Mr Bruton and his cabinet colleagues seem to have forgotten their promise of ‘protecting the vulnerable and burden sharing on an equitable basis’.

‘It is now clear that Sunday Premium payments will be reduced and this is a particularly nasty move’ said Susan McKay, Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland.  ‘This will disproportionally impact on women many who are supporting families.  More than 70% of Irish workers do not work on a Sunday.  Many of those who work on Sunday serve and care for society. Is this how we value such work?’

EU data shows that labour costs in Ireland are not uncompetitive and that labour costs have already fallen without any positive impact on job creation. The Minister seems to have made his decision in a ‘fact free zone’ and has even ignored his own independent advice. He only seems interested in listening to the powerful business lobby, just like the previous government, concluded Ms O’ Donoghue.


Background to the Coalition to Protect the Lowest Paid.

The Coalition to Protect the Lowest Paid is made up of workers, trade unions and community organisations including SIPTU, Mandate, Communications Workers’ Union, UNITE, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, Poor Can’t Pay Campaign, Community Platform, the European Anti-Poverty Network Ireland and the National Women’s Council of Ireland.  This broad-based coalition has come together to defend the pay and conditions of thousands of the lowest paid workers in Ireland such as cleaners, hotel and restaurant workers, security guards, farm labourers and shop workers.


The EU Commission shows that in 2008, hourly labour costs in Ireland’s hotel, restaurant and retail sector were 6 %below the average of the other EU-countries. Since then, Irish labour costs have fallen while in the remainder in Europe they have increased – meaning that we have fallen further behind the European norm.