MORE than 5,000 Brown Thomas and Dunnes Stores staff will today seek pay rises worth €400 a year on the back of increases for other shop workers.
A union representing 1,500 sales assistants at the upmarket Brown Thomas chain will demand a 2pc wage increase at the Labour Relations Commission this morning.
Mandate will also seek a 3pc pay rise for Dunnes' 4,000 workers at the Labour Court, after the supermarket giant refused to attend talks.
The pay rises are worth in the region of €400 a year for full-time staff, although the industry's numerous part-time staff would get less.
Talks took place earlier this week in relation to a 3pc pay rise for 3,500 Penneys workers, while 700 Boots employees are seeking a similar increase.
The latest pay claims come after more than 3,000 Marks & Spencer and 13,000 Tesco workers got wage hikes worth up to €700 a year last year.
Debenhams recently agreed to a 2pc pay increase from September 1 after its 1,400 staff accepted plans to extend a pay freeze, which has been in place for two years.
However, the union faces an obstacle to agreement with Brown Thomas at this morning's talks.
It is resisting the company's plans to end a system of paying commission to some staff on a group basis, and instead pay it to individuals.
Mandate Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light said he was optimistic the union could negotiate the pay increases at BT and Penneys.
"It will be interesting to see what the Labour Court decides if it's 'the same old, same old' from Dunnes over the pay claim, and it does not turn up," he said.
"IBEC is saying that national agreements are dead, but these claims are a case nouveau and wouldn't be a bad start to the new year."
He said the employers had enjoyed their most successful Christmas in five years.
Mr Light added that most businesses had already cut staff hours to "the bare minimum" to cut costs, and were not replacing workers who left.
"Our argument is that our members who remain are working harder than they were during the boom times but have not had pay increases in the last four to five years," he said.
"Although turnover is down, all of these employers are still making significant profits."