Mandate Trade Union, which represents 30,000 workers mostly across the retail sector, has today (Monday, 4th April) called for the immediate introduction of €12.90ph as an entry point for all workers in retail with higher rates for longer serving staff.
Mandate’s General Secretary Gerry Light made the call at the Mandate Biennial Delegate Conference (BDC) which is themed “Essential Work; Fair Play; Decent Wages” in Castlebar in front of 150 delegates.
Mr Light said he was making the call in recognition of the selfless way retail workers served the public during the course of the pandemic.
“I am using the occasion of my address today to call for the living wage of €12.90 to be immediately introduced as the new hourly entry point of pay for all retail workers along with commensurate pay increases for longer serving members of staff,” said Mr Light.
“It can no longer be argued with any justification that the value of your collective contribution to both business and society generally doesn’t deserve such recognition,” Light told conference.
He called on the Low Pay Commission to also take action:
“I know that the Low Pay Commission is currently tasked by the Tánaiste to explore the possibility of making the minimum wage the current living wage rate and I would urge that the Commission recommends this as a matter of urgency,” said Light.
Mandate’s General Secretary also explained how a just reward for all workers who sacrificed so much during the pandemic would be the introduction of collective bargaining rights.
“Once off payments or indeed public holidays will simply not cut it,” said Light. “What is needed from this point forward is meaningful and permanent improvements to your terms and conditions of employment.”
He said: “The government must step up to the plate and introduce legislation which allows workers and their union of choice the statutory power to collectively bargain, with all employers not just the willing few. A constitutional right to be a member of a trade union is meaningless unless workers are afforded the opportunity to fully vindicate that right.”
Mr Light threw down the gauntlet to the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar:
“I’m setting the Minister with current responsibility, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, a task and that is to introduce this legislation as a matter of urgency. Would it not be appropriate that he marks his return to the role of Taoiseach in December of this year with having this legislation in place?”
Mr Light explained how many workers went above and beyond their contractual obligations during the pandemic and “retail workers are one such group.”
He said: “From day one of the pandemic, you turned up for work to face the great uncertainties posed by the potentially deadly virus. You performed courageously and displayed a standard of not only service but indeed public duty that belies the low earning levels and poor working conditions that many of you must endure.”
Mr Light reaffirmed the Union’s call for the reintroduction of mandatory face masks to be worn by the public in retail settings:
“After what our members have been through over the past two years, they deserve nothing less. We must not let our guards down and strive to protect them to the highest level possible until the current wave of excessive infection rates has passed.”