Wednesday 21 February 2018

More work, less pay for those of us with jobs

Private sector wages were largely stagnant
Private sector wages were largely stagnant

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

THE average worker's earnings are down almost €5 a week even though they spend six minutes longer at work.

A new report reveals that workers who managed to hold down a job last year have not fared too badly.

Average weekly earnings fell by €4.46 a week, from €691.74 to €687.28, a drop of less than 1pc, according to the union movement's first labour market report.

It says average hourly earnings, including bonuses and overtime, dropped slightly, largely due to wage falls in the public sector under the Haddington Road Agreement.

Private sector wages were largely stagnant.

But workers have been hit in the pocket by the household and property tax, the universal social charge and hikes in mortgage interest rates.

And the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' new 'Labour Market Monitor' points out that the Irish unemployment rate is still 50pc above the rate in EU countries that were not bailed out.

ICTU highlighted the extent of the problem amid government claims that a recent recovery in employment proves its jobs plan is working.

It says the current unemployment rate in the original 15 EU countries, minus Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain, is 7.8pc, while Ireland's rate is now 11.8pc.

The report notes that the countries with the largest percentage declines in the employment rate between 2007 and last year were Greece, at 12pc, Spain at almost 12pc, Ireland at 9pc and Portugal at almost 7pc.

From peak to trough of the economic crisis, 15.2pc, or 328,700 Irish jobs, were "destroyed".

The report also notes that although the average working week increased by just six minutes between the last three months of 2012 and final quarter of last year, this varies considerably between sectors.

In the mining and quarrying industry, the increase has been almost 3.9 hours a week. In contrast, the working week shortened by 24 minutes in the electricity, water supply, and waste management sector.


Working longer does not always bring a just reward as accommodation and food staff, who now work over half an hour extra a week, only enjoyed a €1.61 increase in their earnings.

"The overall trend in the working week has been upward since their trough in the first quarter of 2011," says the report.

It says there has been a "hollowing out" of middle-paying jobs.

It says these jobs can be more easily computerised or off-shored, compared with low-paying jobs like cleaning or high paying jobs, such as legal advice.

"Excluding agriculture, job growth has been concentrated in the relatively high-paying professional, scientific and technical activities sector and the relatively low-paying accommodation and food service activities sectors," the report stated.

Irish Independent

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