Sunday 19 November 2017

Food sector says reinstating wage rules will hit jobs

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

JOBS Minister Richard Bruton will press ahead with reform of controversial wage agreements in the food sector, despite industry claims that almost 500 new jobs have been created since old agreements were deemed unconstitutional in the High Court.

A survey of members of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) found that 490 new jobs were created in the sector in the past two months, with almost two-thirds of employers reporting that the abolition of the Joint Labour Committees (JLCs) was a factor in their decision to hire new staff.

Most of the new jobs were in individual restaurants while the remainder were in franchises with 150 in McDonald's and 70 in Eddie Rocket's.

But McDonald's yesterday denied that the new jobs were created as a result of the ending of the JLCs and said they had been planned long in advance.

Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the RAI, warned that re-establishing JLCs would be "anti-job creation" and hamper the recovery of the hospitality sector.

Abolishing

"The major factor in the last two months for job creation is the abolishing of the Joint Labour Committees Employment Regulation Order.

"Ireland has the third highest minimum wage rate in Europe and any attempt to resurrect the JLCs will bring us to the top of the class in the most expensive countries in the EU to create a job," he added.

He said the wage agreements had forced restaurants, many of which were struggling to survive and operating at a loss, to pay a premium over and above the national minimum wage.

However, a spokesman for Mr Bruton said that, despite the new jobs created, he still intends to bring new legislation to the Dail early in the new term.

His reforms will scrap bonus pay for Sundays and allow companies in financial difficulty to back out of employment regulation orders.

It will also mean a reduction in the number of JLCs from 13 to six and the remaining committees will only have the power to set a basic adult rate and two higher increments. Previously they set over 300 different wage rates.

"The Minister's position consistently was that reform was badly needed in order to create jobs but also to make the system fair and balanced for workers. He believes that the package of measures agreed by the Cabinet will achieve this," said the spokesman.

Irish Independent

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