Recession 'used as a ploy to axe shop staff'
major retail companies are using the recession as a ploy to drive down wages and cut staff, a union official said yesterday.
And this is despite the companies' healthy profits, the General Secretary of Mandate, John Douglas said yesterday.
The majority of Mandate's 40,000 members are in low-paid employment, and delegates at the union's biennial conference in Galway heard Mr Douglas give instances of companies trying to take advantage of the downturn:
- A leading outlet was attempting to cut wages at the top of the scale by more than 15pc, while reducing holiday pay and Sunday allowances by 25pc.
- A prominent grocery and drapery store was attempting to suspend allowances for late, early and overtime work.
- Another company was introducing a redundancy scheme that enabled it to replace workers on a higher pay scale with workers on much lower wages.
Mr Douglas said: "Feedback from our members suggests that right across the sector most retail workers have lost approximately eight to 12 hours per week as a result of cutbacks."
New research had revealed that the average wage for a sales assistant in Dublin in 2008 was €22,000, while in Cork, Galway and Limerick it was €17,500.
Union President Joan Gaffney said the Government and employers were mistaken if they thought that Mandate would stand by and allow its members carry the burden for the greed of others.
"We will together face up to multi-million profitable companies like Tesco, who hide behind facades of non-disclosure of profits, to protect each Mandate member," she said.