Unions eyeing higher pay rises so workers can cope with the cost of housing
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) has warned it may look for higher pay increases for workers to cope with the rising housing costs.
Patricia King, general secretary of Ictu, which represents more than 832,000 people in Ireland, said the issue would be discussed at the committee meeting next month.
She added that this was as a result of rising housing costs, saying that more than a quarter of disposable income is being spent on rent.
"The crisis is impacting on the living standards of working people and putting untold pressure on incomes, with 27pc of disposable income going on rent in some areas," Ms King said.
She was speaking as the trade union group called for the Government to initiate a major local-authority led programme to generate 50,000 social housing units over the next five years.
Ictu is also urging the Government to declare a housing emergency, which will help put in place a "properly resourced" social housing programme.
The group estimates that building 50,000 social housing units will cost in the region of €1.8bn per annum, with around 13,900 hectares of serviced land available nationally.
Ictu president Sheila Nunan also said that the Government must now push for more social housing provision and building, through local authorities.
"The housing crisis now defines our society, for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong ways.
"Ceding control of the housing market entirely to the private sector has utterly failed.
"The State must now step in and assume responsibility for social housing provision in order to rebalance the broken housing market and vindicate the citizen's basic right to a home and shelter," Ms Nunan said.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin began a new Dáil season with a stinging attack on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the subject of housing.
He said that the tens of thousands of people suffering due to the housing and homelessness crisis cannot hope for any improvement because Government plans "are not working".
Mr Martin said 5,187 adults, 1,400 families, and more than 3,000 children are now homeless.
"The impact of homelessness on children is quite shocking," the Fianna Fáil leader said.
Mr Martin said only 638 social houses were built in 2016 and in the first quarter of 2017 the four Dublin councils failed to build a single social home.
He said 120,000 were on a waiting list for homes and some 90 extra people were declared homeless each month.
"Can you not accept that your Government's policies are just not working?" the Fianna Fáil leader added.
The Taoiseach conceded that "homelessness is a stain on our society" and he insisted the Government was working to build more homes and make mortgages easier to get.
But Mr Varadkar said that there was momentum gathering on the number of homes which are being provided.
No houses were built two years ago, hundreds were built last year and thousands were being provided this year.
The Taoiseach said 19,000 new tenancies were provided last year and 21,000 would be provided this year.
There was a €5.4bn multi-year plan to provide more homes.