22/11/2010

Sinn Fein Rejects Minimum Wage Cut

Sinn Féin's Spokesperson on Workers Rights has said his party rejects any proposal to cut the minimum wage.

Martin Ferris was reacting to "hints" from Finance Minister Brian Lenihan that the current hourly rate might be reduced by €1.

Deputy Ferris said: “People who are on the minimum wage are already in many cases living in poverty. A reduction would ensure that tens of thousands more people who are working will find themselves in an extremely difficult situation. That is recognised by the state through the Family Income Supplement which in effect acts as a subsidy for low paying employers.

Mr Ferris said the claim by employers that slashing wages creates employment is a myth. He argued that such cuts overlooked the fact that while businesses were enjoying massive profits during the boom years wage levels did not rise to reflect that.

"What did take place was that people on low incomes faced steep increases in the cost of living through accommodation and other cost of living expenses. Now that this country has been brought to its knees by an incompetent elite it seems that they see forcing people to work for buttons as the solution.”

Meanwhile, the head of one of the country’s largest trade unions has also rejected proposals to reduce the minimum wage, calling on the public to support a mass protest in Dublin on Saturday against the Government’s “cruel agenda” of cuts.

Jack O’Connor, general president of Siptu, said yesterday demands to cut the minimum wage echoed the agenda of the elite in society, who were “cheerleaders for the property bubble”.

Reacting to news that the Government plans to reduce the €8.65 per hour minimum wage, he criticised business leaders who want to “restructure the social architecture of Ireland” and oblige the vulnerable in society to shoulder the proposed cutbacks.

(DW)

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