New Government follows old format and dishes out more pain for low income workers and their families in Budget 2012
Monday 12 December 2011, 11am
By John Douglas, Mandate General Secretary
Budget 2012 saw the Fine Gael / Labour Government follow in the footsteps of its predecessor and target workers on lower and middle incomes to bare the brunt of savage cuts. The increases in VAT, carbon tax, public transport and other stealth taxes combined with cuts made to welfare payments, including the reduction of the social welfare week from 6 days to 5 and cuts to the back to school allowance and child benefit, represent a ‘double whammy’ for lower income workers.
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This Budget has targeted lower to middle income workers who are least able to afford to pay and who are suffering most from other austerity measures imposed by Government to satisfy the Troika bailout deal. Many of the stealth tax increases announced will also disproportionately affect those on lower incomes. We are now faced with VAT going up by 2% – which will adversely affect business in the retail trade where our members work – and the price increases brought about by this change which will hit those on lowest incomes the hardest as they spend nearly all of their incomes.
In a time when we are seeing a dramatic shift towards part time hours for almost all workers in the retail sector - which is leading to a serious reduction in income and therefore lower living standards for thousands of families throughout the country - the Government has punished these workers with the decision to reduce the social welfare week from six days to five.
Unfortunately, Fine Gael and Labour missed the opportunity to right the wrongs done by the last Government and give lower paid workers a break; instead they chose to add to their pain, despite their pre-election promises.
When the welfare cuts and stealth tax increases are combined with abolition of the Joint Labour Committees, it’s clear that the Government has not done enough to protect the lowest paid workers in our society.
We would encourage all our members to spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues on what the Budget really means to low income workers and their families. Please be sure to let your local representatives know what these cuts and added taxes will mean for you.
Mandate is committed to building stronger worker unity and power and we would ask our members to start a national conversation on the rights of low paid workers in this country. Now is the time for solidarity, please discuss these issues with both members and unorganised workers.
We will keep you updated on all Trade Union efforts to reverse these savage cuts