Unions hit out at minimum wage cut
Published 07/12/2010 | 18:31
A cut to the minimum wage of Ireland's lowest paid workers is a savage attack on those the Government believe won't fight back, unions claimed.
A date for the one euro slice off the €8.65 an hour rate has not been confirmed but it is expected to be introduced in the next 12 months.
Around 50,000 workers currently receive the lowest pay rate.
The change, when it comes, will only apply to new employees and not those on existing contracts. Those on the lower minimum wage will not be brought into the income tax bracket.
But trade union Unite condemned the cut.
"We have been told for two years, over four budgets, that cutting back would save us," said Jimmy Kelly, Unite Irish Regional Secretary.
"€14bn later and we are staring down the barrel of a decade of desolation.
"This government has sought to right the wrongs of the bank leadership's criminal misadventure by taking €40 per week off workers on the minimum wage.
"The cutbacks included in this budget will strangle growth and render the Government's four year plan redundant, but they don't care because they will hand this poisoned chalice to the people and depart for the opposition benches.
"It is wrong that a government so out of touch with the will of the people should have the gall to introduce this budget which is a savage attack on those who they think will not fight back."
Public sector workers' union Impact also hit out against the cut to the minimum wage.
General secretary Shay Cody said Ireland needed an alternative approach that put jobs and stimulation at the centre of economic policy.
"Impact and other unions will strongly resist the cuts in the minimum wage and social welfare which, coupled with an additional tax burden, will impoverish tens of thousands," he said.
He said the budget as a whole would not revive the economy.
"By taking yet more money from those on low and middle incomes - be they workers, welfare recipients or pensioners - the Government is guaranteeing that we won't grow out of the financial crisis," he said.
"Instead, the Government's vicious circle of economic decline will continue as consumer demand falls further, creating more unemployment and further declines in tax revenue."
But the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association said the cut would enable some firms to save jobs.
"The decision to reduce the minimum wage will assist some companies in addressing their labour costs," said an ISME spokesman.