Monday 18 December 2017

Varadkar backs Bruton's wage reform plan

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton last night received backing from a cabinet colleague in his plans to reform the wage setting system for low earners and Sunday pay.

Mr Bruton also unveiled plans yesterday to merge a range of quangos dealing with employment rights.

The Government was urged by hotel and restaurant owners to follow on from its VAT cut with a radical reform of the joint labour committee (JLC) and employment regulation orders (ERO), and the abolition of the Sunday premium pay.

Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar became the first cabinet minister to publicly back Mr Bruton's controversial proposals, which are under fire from the Labour Party.

The proposals are currently being discussed by the Cabinet.

"I think there is absolute agreement at Government level that the JLC system and the ERO system needs to be reformed and reformed radically. The exact detail of that needs to be worked out.

"But it is important to point out that what Richard Bruton is proposing is not that Sunday premiums get abolished altogether. He is proposing that the same rights that apply to all other workers on Sundays should be applied," he said.

Also yesterday, the national minimum wage was formally restored to €8.65 as restaurant owners said they are paying the highest catering wage rates in Europe.

Legislation reversing the €1 cut was passed last month, but the restoration of the rate only came into force from yesterday. The reduction was part of a four-year package of cuts and tax increases introduced by the Fianna Fail-Green Party coalition late last year and reversed by the new Government.

While the €7.65 rate was meant to only apply to new workers, it was imposed on a number of existing housekeeping staff at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin. After a hearing at the Labour Court, the hotel was ordered to reverse the wage cut.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said the cut had "exposed some of the very worst of Irish business and politics".

Meanwhile, Mr Bruton is planning to merge the Labour Relations Commission, Rights Commissioners, NERA, the Equality Tribunal and the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The current mechanism is costing €21m a year and the minister intends to set up one body to deal with complaints and appeals.

Irish Independent

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