Union seeks pay rise for 4,000 staff at Penneys
A union is set to lodge a claim for a pay rise for 4,000 Penneys workers in the wake of a wage increase at Tesco.
It is understood that an existing agreement at the cut-price clothing chain is set to expire in June, prompting officials to begin talks on a new deal.
Mandate, which represents retail and bar staff, is likely to seek a wage increase for staff lasting at least a year as soon as the current deal ends.
A 2pc wage increase accepted by staff at Tesco last week is expected to spark a wave of increases at other big chains.
The latest big pay claim at Penneys comes as senior union leaders have begun a major drive for wage increases. At the weekend, the leader of the trade union movement, David Begg, said Ireland needs a pay rise across all sectors.
Mandate said it had won €20m in pay rises for 40,000 members over the last two years.
And the manufacturing division of SIPTU has concluded 200 wage deals with employers, including Glanbia, covering 45,000 employees.
It represents staff in industries including agriculture, meat processing, food and drink, electronics, and medical devices.
"In one of our sectors, pharmaceuticals, over 96pc of the membership has had a pay rise and we are now into the second round of pay increases since 2010," said divisional organiser Gerry McCormack.
Mandate general secretary John Douglas claimed Irish workers were underpaid compared with our European neighbours. "We're also more productive and Irish company profits are rising at a faster rate than the EU average," he said.
He said it was important that workers in profitable businesses seek pay increases to grow the domestic economy.
However, Retail Excellence Ireland, representing over 1,100 retailers, said large international companies were the only ones giving pay rises.
"They have traded out the recession a little more robustly than the smaller indigenous guys," said chief executive David Fitzsimons.
"We're dealing with the failure of companies every day of the week here."
He said the larger companies had often got more productivity in return for wage increases.
He predicted that up to 300 pharmacies would be forced to close in the next three years after losing around €30,000 each after the Government cut the price it paid for drugs.