Competitiveness about more than costs says Unite

unite-white-out-of-redUnion submission to Competitiveness Frameworks Review highlights need to diversify from low-wage, low-value-added sectors

May 19th: In its submission to the Competitiveness Frameworks Review being carried out by the NCC, trade union Unite has urged the National Competitiveness Council to look beyond labour, taxation and other costs and extend its focus to factors such as product quality, efficient management, workers’ participation and social cohesion.  Pointing out that countries considered more competitive than Ireland have higher levels of wages and taxation, as well as stronger labour rights, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said today (Thursday May 19th):

“In our submission, Unite asks the NCC to extend its investigation from the narrow focus on costs to a number of other areas which we think are key.

“If low wages, low tax and low levels of labour protection were key to competitiveness, as is often claimed, Ireland would be leading the competitiveness league.  Instead, we are well behind other small open economies such as Austria, Belgium and Finland, which have far higher levels of wages, taxation and labour rights.

“Nearly half of all workers in Ireland’s indigenous economy work in low-waged sectors with high levels of precariousness such as hospital and retail – well above the European average.  At the same time, indigenous employment in the Irish manufacturing sector is about half what it is in comparable European economies.

“This means we simply cannot generate the same levels of wages and wealth as those economies.

“As well as encouraging Irish business to move into high-wage, high value-added sectors, we need to take steps to increase employee involvement in decision-making, which has been shown to improve productivity and efficiency – and therefore competitiveness.  And we need to tackle Ireland’s persistently high levels of inequality, poverty and social exclusion – all of which dampen GDP growth, hindering our competitiveness.

“Competitiveness is about much more than costs, and we hope the NCC will take on board Unite’s submission and expand the issues considered in the Competitiveness Frameworks Review”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.

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