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Women's council hits out at Bruton 'snub'

ENTERPRISE Minister Richard Bruton is under fire for allegedly refusing to meet the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) over plans to cut the pay and conditions of thousands of workers.

The NWCI accused him of ignoring a request to discuss proposals he will soon present to Cabinet.

These proposals will radically reform legally-binding wage deals across industries, including retail and hotels.

The minister was on his way to a trade mission in California yesterday but his spokesman said he had met as many representative groups as he could during consultations before a deadline last Friday.

"It would never be possible to meet everybody within a short time frame, but he will be taking on board a wide range of views," he said.

Mr Bruton will shortly put forward plans that would cut Sunday premium payments, and pay rates for skilled and experienced workers, from the wage deals.

The Cabinet will also assess more moderate recommendations put forward in an independent review by state mediator Kevin Duffy and UCD economist Frank Walsh.

The Government will then come up with an action plan to reform the Employment Regulation Order and Registered Employment Agreement wage deals, which was a condition of the bailout deal.

However, the Labour Party is set to try to block the minister's plans due to severe pressure from backbenchers and unions.

The NWCI said it sent emails, letters and phoned Mr Bruton's office since May 23 to request a meeting.

"It's outrageous that Mr Bruton is excluding voices of workers and the women who represent a majority of those impacted by his proposed changes," said chief executive Susan McKay.

Irish Independent