RESTAURANT owners have claimed that they could create 4,000 jobs if the Government abolished minimum-wage deals across a host of industries.
At a high-level meeting yesterday, the Restaurant Association of Ireland urged Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton to go further than his controversial proposals to drastically reform the agreements.
An independent review by a state mediator and an academic recently recommended radical reform -- but not the abolition of the wage deals.
However, Mr Bruton drew up his own proposals, recommending the scrapping of Sunday premium pay and a range of pay rates included in the deals. His plans have thrown him into direct conflict with his Labour coalition partners and the unions.
At a meeting at his department yesterday, the Restaurant Association of Ireland described the recent independent review that said the wage deals should stay in place as "economic fiction".
"These wage deals are endangering jobs as they oblige Irish restaurants to pay the second-highest minimum catering wage in Europe," said the association's CEO Adrian Cummins.
He claimed that businesses were closing on Sundays because they had to pay premium payments 33pc higher than basic pay.
A spokesman for Mr Bruton said the meeting was "useful", adding: "A number of important issues were raised regarding the challenges faced by enterprises."
Mr Bruton met a group called the Jobs Alliance, which includes the Restaurants Association of Ireland, as well as vintners and employers in the retail, grocery, hotel and hairdressing sectors
Mr Bruton will present his proposals to the Cabinet on June 20, before the Government draws up its action plan on the wage deals at the end of the month.