Mandate fights Minimum Wage cuts
Wednesday 22 December 2010, 12am
MANDATE trade union, along with other concerned organisations, reacted angrily to the Government's shameful cutting of the minimum wage in December's Budget. Flagged as a potential target before Budget 2011, this socially and morally regressive step was wrapped up together with the EU/IMF bailout. Government ministers then sought to blame external influences for stripping 12% off the pay packets of the poorest in society while some of those on extremely high incomes came through the Budget better off.
After the measure was revealed in the Budget, the Government, knowing full well how the public would react, rushed through the necessary legislation to turn the proposal into law. Despite this short window of opportunity, a group of community organisations and trade unions, gathered together a petition of over 6,000 signatures in less then 24 hours. This was presented to opposition TDs who gave undertakings that the measure would be rescinded if they were elected to power in next year's general election.
When the matter came before the Dáil, the Government parties and some of the Independents combined to pass the Bill with the Labour Party, Fine Gael, Sinn Fein and certain Independents voting against the measure.
John Douglas said the measure, when put together with widening of the tax bands represented an extraordinary 'double whammy' aimed at the 'working poor'. He said that as his union had feared, the lower paid are being used as scapegoats to cover up a decade of economic blunders by a Government that no longer has a mandate to govern.
"The Government's tax strategy is totally regressive as it focuses on bringing more lower paid workers into the tax net and doesn't address the issue of getting more tax from those on very high incomes. In addition, they have also cut welfare benefits like Child Benefit which help families on lower incomes to keep their heads above water."
John Douglas continued that the retrograde step will actually damage the economy.
"Cutting the wages of the lowest paid workers will only degrade working conditions and lead to a decrease in productivity, damage consumer spending, and will place those with the lowest incomes in an impossible situation. This is all the more pointless when we know that it is the lower wage earners who spend proportionately more in the local economy than higher paid workers."
"Ireland's minimum wage has been consistently misrepresented as disproportionately high when this is not the case. This rhetoric diverts from the real issue of wage disparity and social inequality. Other EU countries such as France, Belgium, and the Netherlands have similar minimum wages, yet their cost of living is considerably lower. In fact, other EU countries are also continuing to increase minimum wages in the recession, in order to encourage consumption."
Click on this link for the shameful list of all the TDs who voted for cuts to the National Minimum Wage.
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