Mandate Trade Union calls on Government to use Budgetary surplus to improve public services and housing while replacing the Minimum Wage with a Living Wage

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Mandate Trade Union, representing more than 24,000 workers in the retail, bar and administration sectors, is calling on the Irish Government to invest in capital spending, improving public services and the introduction of a Living Wage.

Mandate, which represents mostly low paid workers, said their members cannot afford private healthcare or the purchase of their own home and insists the Government steps in to address these key issues.

In a pre-Budget statement, Mandate has called for:

  • The removal of sub-minimum rates of the National Minimum Wage.
  • The introduction of a Living Wage (currently €13.85) to replace the National Minimum Wage.
  • The declaration of a housing emergency and the implementation of the key Raise the Roof policies.
  • New legislation to allow workers access more hours.
  • Strong collective bargaining legislation to enable workers to increase their wages.

Jonathan Hogan, Mandate Assistant General Secretary said: “We are calling on the government to meaningfully address the cost of living crisis by utilising a once in a generation opportunity to invest the extraordinary Budgetary surplus in public housing.”

Statistics from the Irish Department of Finance show it is set to reap a budget surplus of €10bn (£8.6bn) this year – or 3.5% of national income. It is Mandate’s belief that this surplus should not be squandered through tax cuts but should instead be invested in improving public services for all.

Mr Hogan added, “We are also calling on the government to empower workers to improve their own lot by strengthening trade union legislation, including collective bargaining, while also legislating to allow workers to increase their hours at work as hours become available.”

Mr Hogan explained that Mandate’s position on Budget 2024 has been taken after extensive consultation with low paid workers over the past two years.

“We have conducted dozens of surveys of our members and also adopted positions based on our Biennial Delegate Conference (BDC) which sets Mandate policies for the two years ahead. At our last conference in 2022, members from all across the country prioritised housing, investment in mental health services, investment in autism services, enhanced workers’ rights and the introduction of an employer funded pension scheme. Importantly, the only commentary on taxation at our conference was to close loopholes and ensure the largest corporations and highest income households paid their fair share so that we can all have a decent standard of living. Nobody sought tax cuts.”

Mandate insists that this Budget will have an impact on next year’s local and European elections but that politicians shouldn’t believe workers can be bought with tax cuts.

“We’ve gone through almost 10 years of tax cuts since the austerity years and virtually nobody has benefited from them other than the highest earners. Workers need investment in the essentials – housing, healthcare, education, energy – and if they don’t see that happening, we can expect the government parties to suffer in next years elections,” concluded Mr Hogan.