Monday 11 December 2017

Striking hotel staff win battle against wages cut

Edel O'Connell

THE first workers in the country to be hit by a cut to the minimum wage have won their fight to retain their old wage rate.

The Labour Court yesterday ordered the O'Callaghan Hotel Group to reverse a wage cut it imposed on its housekeeping staff at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin last month, and to reinstate the five women on strike at the hotel on their old rates.

The decision has been described by trade union SIPTU as "a significant victory".

The row arose after the outgoing Government lowered the national minimum wage from €8.65 an hour to €7.65 for new employees, under legislation which came into force on February 1.

Staff at the Davenport Hotel were asked if they would sign documents agreeing to cut their pay rate to €7.80 per hour.

Some 40 housekeeping staff agreed, but five staff who refused were removed from the roster, and went on strike

The women -- Raisa Jonaitiene, Regina Balciuniene, Ingrida Balciuniene, Grayzna Ziemer and Jolita Vallisiene -- mounted pickets outside the hotel last month in protest at the move.

Support

They claimed the O'Callaghan Group had called them to a meeting and told them they had to accept the cut "to support the Government".

In a recommendation issued yesterday afternoon, Labour Court deputy chairman Brendan Hayes said it could not support the company's submission that the pay cut was necessary to sustain jobs.

He added that the company had not pleaded inability to pay.

Mr Hayes said he was not satisfied the employees had been provided with all the relevant information, or given a reasonable period to reflect or take advice.

The women will return to work tomorrow.

The new lower minimum wage rate is only likely to exist for a few months as the incoming Government has pledged to reverse the cut during its first 100 days in office.

The O'Callaghan Hotel Group refused to comment.

Irish Independent

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