PETROL stations are being forced to close at night because they can't afford to pay staff double time, writes Aideen Sheehan.
Motorists who want to fill up their car or get coffee at 6am are finding stations closed because the antiquated Joint Labour Committee (JLC) system requires them to pay up to twice as much between midnight and 7am, said Topaz Marketing Director Paul Candon.
It's too costly to pay staff over €19 an hour even though there's enough motorists on the road to warrant staying open, he said.
Under the JLC agreement premium rates of time-and-a-quarter apply to unsocial night working hours, rising to double time if it's overtime.
"We would love to have taxi drivers pulling in at night to fill up or eat in the deli, but it's just too expensive to operate at these premium rates," said Mr Candon.
"So what happens is you shut down the night service and that's a job gone, when you could have employed someone if the rates weren't so high."
Sunday and bank holiday rates similarly added hugely to wage bills, and the whole retail sector is struggling to cope with the outdated burden of the JLC, according to Retail Excellence Ireland which represents 8,500 stores nationwide.
Ghost shopping centres will scar the countryside like ghost housing estates if the government doesn't hasten its promised reforms, it said.