New research shows that 39% of Mandate's members have experienced an average €109 per week fall in take home pay over last
Friday 25 May 2012, 11am
Report says Government needs to re-examine proposed changes to JLC and REA wage setting mechanisms and implementation of EU Directive on part-time working
Almost four out of ten Mandate Trade Union members have reported a fall in take home pay over the last year, with the average fall being €109 per week according to research launched today in Dublin’s Buswells Hotel. The research is contained in a new report Decent work? The impact of the recession on low paid workers and it shows that the falling wages are driven primarily by cuts in the working hours of retail workers as well as increased taxes and levies.
comments powered by
Mandate Trade Union represents over 45,000 workers in the retail trade – which is now the largest sector of employment in the Irish economy.
Decent Work? The impact of the recession on low paid workers is based on a survey of Mandate members conducted by the market research company Behaviour & Attitudes. It also contains an analysis of this research as well as a study of recent data on the position of low paid workers carried out by the Research and Policy Analyst, Camille Loftus. The report reveals that:
• 39% of Mandate’s members reported a fall in take home pay over the last year, with an average fall of €109 per week;
• Since 2011, on average, retail workers’ hours have declined by 4.3%. For part-time workers the decrease was 5.6% and for student workers it was 12.9%;
• The majority of Mandate members are on part-time contracts working an average of 22 hours per week. Over half of these work their hours over at least five days;
• Six in ten Mandate members were willing and able to work extra hours in order to make ends meet. Less than half of the part-time employees who asked for more hours got them;
• Many retail workers’ hours are subject to frequent change: for example, almost half of part-time workers have their working hours changed at least once a month, while only a third have stable working hours.
The report also revealed the impact the declining income and changing conditions are having on individuals and families:
• Around a third of Mandate members are finding it difficult to adequately feed and clothe their families, and to pay off household loans. Four in ten are experiencing difficulty paying their mortgage or rent, over half are struggling to pay utility bills;
• More than seven in ten reported that they had cut back on their spending so much that they can afford little or no social activities and that they are now far less likely to visit a doctor because they could not afford the cost;
• Three-quarters said that they are finding it more difficult to cope in general and suffer much more stress than a few years ago;
• Around one in ten had got a second job, and 17% had started to claim a social welfare payment. For a significant proportion, these options weren’t available: 11% of members reported that changes in their working patterns had made it more difficult for them to qualify for social welfare, and 13% said these had made it harder for them to secure another job;
• Around three in ten borrowed money from a credit union and from close family or friends, some had borrowed from more than one source
Commenting on the research, Camille Loftus said that at a policy level, there is little or no acknowledgement of the precarious position facing many retail workers and this is a matter that needs to be addressed by Government.
“Reforms to the JLC and REA wage setting mechanisms announced by Minister Bruton last year have the stated aim of making them ‘fairer, more competitive and more flexible’ with the hope of increasing job creation. However, these reforms fail to address the vulnerability of those in precarious work; rather they are likely to increase its incidence and compound the vulnerability of these employees, leaving a growing proportion of the workforce without access to decent work. We are urging Minister Bruton to review his proposed reforms as a matter of priority.
“The incorporation of the EU Directive in relation to part-time work is also an area that warrants re-examination. A more formal process, requiring employers to justify a decision to deny part-time workers access to longer hours, particularly where an increasing proportion of their workforce is employed on part-time flexible contracts, would help to provide a better balance between the needs of employees and employers. Without it, we are likely to see a growing incidence of precarious work in the Irish economy.”
Camille Loftus also proposed that the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare established in the Department of Social Protection give specific attention to the issue of precarious work. ”The findings of this report make clear that the social welfare and tax systems are not providing effective support to precarious workers.”
Mandate’s General Secretary, John Douglas making the concluding remarks at the launch said: “This research shows that Ireland’s labour market crisis will not be solved with a more jobs at any cost strategy. We need to look at the quality of jobs that are being created otherwise we will just increase the number of working poor.”