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Thursday 30 March 2017

EU 'oversteps bounds' to seek pay cuts

Sarah Collins in Brussels

A UNION chief yesterday criticised the European Commission for taking advantage of its position as the country's new paymaster to reduce wages for the nation's poorest workers.

European Trade Union Confederation General Secretary John Monks met with EU economics chief Olli Rehn yesterday to express his concerns at the handling of the EU-IMF bailout in Ireland.

He told the Irish Independent that Brussels was overstepping its bounds by seeking to influence a review of a system of Labour Court-issued orders that guarantee minimum wages and conditions in some sectors.

"Because Ireland is in difficulty, you are using that to extend your competences beyond the scope of the treaties," he said.

"Ireland will not deflate its way out of trouble, you can only grow your way out of trouble."

Under the terms of the €85bn bailout package agreed last November, the Government agreed to lower the national minimum wage by €1 to €7.65 an hour -- a move which comes into effect next Tuesday -- and signed up to begin an independent review of a system of registered employment agreements before the end of March.

The agreements allow employers and workers in certain sectors -- including the construction, retail, catering and security services -- to set minimum wages and conditions, which are marginally higher than the minimum wage.

The agreements can be registered with the Labour Court and made legally binding.

Around 170,000 workers will be affected by changes to the agreements, according to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Under the memorandum of understanding between the Government, the EU and the IMF, the terms of reference of the review and any follow-up actions must be rubber-stamped by Brussels.

Irish Independent

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