Sunday 10 December 2017

Choice of former trade union chief for IMF talks criticised

Ailish O'Hora

THE Government is set to appoint a former trade union leader to head up wage policy talks recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of the billion euro bailout package, the Irish Independent has learned.

But the appointment of Labour Court chairman Kevin Duffy has already caused controversy, with rebel Fianna Fail TD Mattie McGrath writing to EU/IMF officials questioning his suitability for the role. The latest policy talks are expected to lead to additional cuts in hourly rates, on top of the recent reduction in the minimum wage by €1 to €7.65.

They include weekend rates that can be as high as €30 per hour in the construction industry and €15 in the hotel sector.

These rates are known as Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements between trade unions and employers, and are registered by the Labour Court.

Under EU/IMF proposals, the pay levels will be reviewed by the end of the first quarter of next year. But Mr McGrath believes this will not be achieved under current government plans.

"The process being proposed by the Government is totally unacceptable to many of the employers who have contacted me," he wrote.

But in a response from European officials, Mr McGrath was told the latest review on wage policies would be an "independent, balanced and highly professional one, so that it can form a sound basis for possible policy intervention in this area".

Irish Independent

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