Workers 'will be replaced' by staff on new minimum wage
WORKERS on the existing minimum wage could be sacked and replaced by staff on the new lower rate, it was warned last night.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan insisted the new rate of €7.65 would only affect new workers and anyone on the existing rate of €8.65 would be protected.
But Fine Gael's Michael Noonan claimed that in the "real world", workers who were on the higher €8.65 rate would be "let go" because they were costing employers €40 more per week.
Rather than making the country more competitive, the savings from cutting the rate will go into the pockets of employers, opposition parties claimed.
The cuts to the minimum wage were rushed through by lunchtime yesterday, with the Government winning each vote with a comfortable majority.
Independent TDs Jackie Healy-Rae, Michael Lowry and Joe Behan voted to cut the minimum wage.
Mattie McGrath, who resigned the Fianna Fail party whip earlier this year and voted with the Government in every vote since Tuesday, switched sides for one of the votes yesterday.
He voted with the Government on the first vote to cut the minimum wage, but then bizarrely switched sides for the second and final vote.
General secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg last night described the vote to cut the minimum wage as Ireland's "day of shame".
Both Fine Gael and Labour last night claimed that those on the minimum wage were not on "rock solid contracts" and had very "loose arrangements" with their employers.