Brendan Ogle: Trade unions cannot allow lowest-paid workers to be abandoned

Unite welcomes Congress decision to withdraw from Low Pay Commission

September 23rd: Unite’s Senor Officer in the Republic of Ireland, Brendan Ogle, has today (Wednesday) welcomed the decision by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to withdraw from the Low Pay Commission following the refusal by employer representatives on the Commission to recommend a meaningful increase to the Minimum Wage. Commenting, Mr Ogle said that the lowest-paid workers were on the economic front line both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the trade union movement cannot allow them to be abandoned:

“Our movement is built on solidarity.  It is unacceptable that, at a time when wage increases across the economy are over 2 %, the lowest-paid workers should be expected to be satisfied with a 10 cent hourly increase.

“Ireland’s endemic levels of poverty pay are a national disgrace, and perpetuating them is both morally unjustifiable and economically irresponsible.  Both Unite, in our policy roadmap Hope or Austerity, and Congress in its document No Going Back, have pointed out that the current emergency cannot be used to further increase inequality and that the supports we called for for employers must be linked to fair and decent treatment for workers.

“Low-paid workers have been on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic, with many working throughout the crisis in areas such as logistics, cleaning and care work while others have been laid off and are currently surviving on state supports in the hope that their jobs will return – and that, when those jobs do return, they will pay a decent wage.

This emergency gave our society an opportunity to reset the dial on workplace decency and respect, along with much else. Instead we see the same old instincts from the usual groups and Government kicking down to create more inequality and misery. The trade union movement cannot be part of that process. There literally can be ‘No Going Back’ to the behaviours that have caused so much misery to so many”, Mr Ogle concluded.

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