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Saturday 17 March 2018

Numbers halved at May Day pay cuts protest

Edel O'Connell

UP to 400 people turned out for the annual May Day protest to listen to the trade union movement voice its opposition to public sector pay cuts.

The protest in Dublin, which was attended by representatives of trade unions, socialist groups and left wing political parties, was less than half the size of last year's rally when more than 1,000 people took part.

Speaking ahead of the protest, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg described the claim that pay cuts were a necessary step to bolster the flailing economy as "bogus".

He said cutbacks were shrinking the economy, leading to an increase in unemployment and a brain drain.

The peaceful demonstration saw members of the Dublin Congress of Trade Unions (DCTU), representatives from the United Left Alliance and smaller campaign groups bang on wheelie bins, blow whistles and use megaphones to bring O'Connell Street to a temporary standstill.

Although the numbers were down this year, DCTU president Phil McFadden said the sentiment was stronger than ever.

"People are very angry. Economic austerity is a policy of deficit which is crippling the lower waged and resulting in cuts to spending in the public sector. Worst of all it is pitting worker against worker, private against public.

"People on minimum wages are being crippled to offset the greed of bankers and developers. Pay cuts are not the answer," he said.

Contract cleaner Lucia Fay, who works at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, spoke on behalf of the Fair Deal for Cleaners Campaign, which aims to defend the pay and conditions for contract cleaners.

"Each week is a struggle to make ends meet and now we are hearing the Government plans to make further cuts to our pay through changes to employment regulation orders.

"The changes, which will result in pay decreases for workers in rates for overtime and for working anti-social hours, will hit 60,000 people on the minimum wage. I have a simple message today -- enough is enough," she said.

Irish Independent

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