Monday 4 August 2008

John Douglas says this will compensate workers for increase in basic necessities

A flat rate €30 per week increase for all workers would compensate for increases in food and fuel prices say Mandate trade union. The union is expected to lodge claims with a large proportion of retail companies in the coming weeks following the collapse of the national wage negotiations at the weekend.

Mandate General Secretary, John Douglas said that his union is lodging reasonable claims to protect vulnerable low paid workers against the dangerous increases in essential items over the coming months.

“A €30 weekly increase at this particular time is a very reasonable considering the situation most low paid workers are living in at the moment. We have seen massive increases in milk, bread, petrol amongst other essential items. We are also expecting a 17.5%-20% in electricity and gas prices respectively over the next two months.

“For those already living at or below the poverty line, a €30 per week increase would make a massive difference to their standard of living as well as their family members standard of living. What we don’t want is for low paid workers to have to choose between heating or eating this winter and we will do everything we can to ensure this does not become a choice for our members,” stated Mr Douglas.

The trade union came to a figure of €30 per week based on the median wage in the country. With the current rate of inflation running at 5%, the median worker would need to receive an extra 80c per hour on their €15.39. What it means is for lower paid workers a €30 increase is slightly above inflation levels, while a €30 increase for high earners is a well below inflation increase but it would compensate your average family for the basic cost of living increases.

“Following over a decade of prosperity in this country, where a lot of workers have done very well, it is time to show social solidarity with those who have not done so well. It is the high earners who should be expected to take below inflation level increases to compensate for the difficult times ahead. To ask all workers, including those living below the poverty line to tighten their belts is simply unreasonable and unfair,” said Mr Douglas.

Mandate insist that their claims are not unreasonable and have pointed to massive profits in the retail sector as proof that companies can afford to pay their workers a flat rate compensation for cost of living increases.

“Some retail companies are posting profits of €1 and €2 billion. We are not going to put jobs at risk with these claims. If companies are genuinely troubled by the current economic climate they can avail of the inability to pay clause which is still in place in social partnership agreements.

We do not want industrial unrest in this country and that is why we are asking companies to engage with trade unions over the coming weeks so we can reach some sort of agreement on the issue of cost of living increases. Discussions between employers and trade unions must take place as soon as possible.