Saturday, 18 December 2010

Michael D. Higgins on the minimum wage

I'm not on the minimum wage,  but I dread to think what life is like in this country for anyone who is.  Anyone who is honest and hardworking enough to get up out of bed in the morning and toil for a wage that has been deemed the minimum necessary in order to subsist.  After all, it was not called the minimum wage for nothing. 

As readers will know, our scumbag Government has cut the minimum wage by over 11 per cent, while leaving Ireland's scandalously low 12.5% corporate tax rate untouched.  While failed bankers continue to claim bonuses for wrecking the economy, and while those on over €500,000 will see a 4% net increase in their income.  The Labour Party, to its credit, tabled a motion against the cutting of the minimum wage, the text of which you can see below.  There are some very revealing points in it, so it is well worth a read.  

It is also a novelty to hear an Irish politician who is able to string a few coherent words together on any subject, let alone one as important as this.   Michael D. Higgins does so eloquently in the YouTube clip above (thanks Ponyboy). 

 Let's hope when Fine Gael / Labour form the next government, they remember their pledges to reverse this attack on the most decent, most hardworking, most pissed-upon section of our workforce.

Labour Party motion against the lowering of the minimum wage
“That Dáil Éireann:

recognising that the national minimum wage is low, providing a full-time employee with less than €18,000 annually (with reductions for those under 18 or in their first job), and that amongst EU states it ranks as 12th highest when measured as a percentage of average monthly wages and 9th highest if measured in terms of purchasing power parity

accepting that:

the current minimum wage has not kept pace with average growth in wages or been increased since July 2007;

the 2009 income levy has already reduced the real value of the minimum wage; and

the new universal social charge will be payable on wages at this level;

concerned that 116,000 workers, or 6.6% of the workforce, are living below the poverty line, that the working poor make up 24% of all those in poverty and 40% of all households in poverty, and that the minimum wage is especially relied upon for protection by women, migrants and other vulnerable workers;

noting that only 4% of workers, and only 1.2% of industrial workers in export sectors, are on the minimum wage, with no major impact on competitiveness;

acknowledging the role of a statutory minimum wage in protecting against unfair competitive advantage by unscrupulous employers who exploit their workers;

further acknowledging the opportunity available through the Labour Court, which has yet to be invoked by any employer, to plead inability to pay the national minimum wage;

reaffirming that a statutory minimum wage is a statement of core values, providing a threshold of decency under which society agrees that workers’ wages should not fall, and that a reduction would signal a race to the bottom in which everyone – low wage workers, public and private sector workers, social welfare claimants and pensioners – will suffer;

believing that a reduction in the minimum wage will only create a disincentive to work, will have no impact on the public debt or on economic recovery and makes absolutely no sense at any level;

condemning the Government's logic that poverty wages will create more jobs and that welfare rates must be below even those poverty wages, which logic will in turn require major cuts in welfare payments; and

appalled that the Government’s four year plan has targeted the most vulnerable members of society and convinced that the proposed reduction in the minimum wage of one euro an hour will have the most profound impact on those who are poorest, deepen their poverty and draw more workers into poverty;

condemns the Government’s unnecessary, unwise and unfair decision to reduce the national minimum wage and calls for a reversal of this cut.”

— Willie Penrose, Eamon Gilmore, Joan Burton, Emmet Stagg, Thomas P. Broughan, Joe Costello, Michael D. Higgins, Brendan Howlin, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Liz McManus, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Ruairí Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, Seán Sherlock, Róisín Shortall, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Jack Wall.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting that video up. I've always respected Michael. D. Higgins but my estimation of the man has increased tenfold after listening to that speech.

Anonymous said...

Ireland's Criminal Exposé.

A “Daily Telegraph” type of exposé about Irish politicians is long overdue in Ireland. The Catholic Church’s hold on politics has to be broken. The closed shop of secrecy and family dynasty corruption must end now. The main outrage in this matter is that there has been “no tangible outrage” or indignation by the press or broadcasters. Yes they make mention of it as they would about the changing weather, but other than that; nothing at all!!

When it begins to hurt badly, as it will, the Irish people will exclaim: Oh! Dear, Oh! Dear.

Anonymous said...

Jaysus! this is Ireland to be sure, you’d expect there to be dozens of remarks about the minimum wage by now, you see nobody gives a fuck about anybody else. No one ever has !!!

The Gombeen Man said...

There are lots of very vocal interest groups in Ireland - the Irish Language Lobby being one example - who are very active on the Web.

It seems that the working poor don't merit that much attention in this middle-class world, as there is precious little on this issue elsewhere in Blogland.

Anonymous said...

I am genuinely impressed by your speech Mr O'Higgins, you sound sincere. You do not have a hope in hell of making any change in Ireland until you dump supersilious politicians like the deputy Taoiseach. She was interviewed on RTE and was more concerned with her weight than with the urgent matters that you address in your speech. Good God, the last thing Ireland needs at this time is another Sarah Palin. That is the level of commitment to change that you have in some politicians at the present time. Once again; Great speech, I hope that you meant it!!!
Sean O'Casey was not a Catholic, and he left in disgust, as did Daniel O'Connell and many others.

Also, you could dump The KOC aka The Irish KKK

Fergus Strathdee.
Edinburgh The Land of James Connolly

Anonymous said...

The hearts of the Irish are filled with fear of hell fire. They have been indoctrinated by the church for so long that they will tolerate anything. That is why they do not complain about their humilitation and indignity. They actually believe that the priests, politicians and bankers are better than they are. Nothing can change in the face of this inferiority.

Anonymous said...

Mr Higgins would make an excellent Taoiseach, on the basis of his speech. He sounded to be on the level, but politicains opinions can change at the drop of a hat. Mary Coughlan did seem a bit idiotic on TV especially when she was giving her slimming therapist free advertising. That sounded very silly and most unethical.

The minimum wage is a serious matter, as Mr Higgins oration made clear.I am astounded that the Irish people are so laid back about it. Why don't they confront their TD's and Senators. The Irish politicians and the church just seem to 'shit' on the people, and few complain.

Anonymous said...

Ireland have the best politicians that money can buy, with emphasis on 'money can buy'. They also have the best police that 'money can buy'. Look at the debacle about "Ryan the Druggie". The politicians and police knew all about it and they covered it up. Truth and Integrity can be changed to suit the occasion, if the price is right. The advantage of living in a Catholic country is that sins are forgiven, again if the price is right. In many respects, Ireland is still a medieval society, filled with the superstition of hell fire and the pain of purgatory. Hard to believe, but it's true!!

ANNA said...

It's Xmas: remember those whose jobs may be in jeopardy;
A Clerical Officer friend of mine in a different Department was at a very recent work Xmas do when a Minister not from his dept called in. This attractive blonde female Minister* is from a Northern county, which already had highest unemployment & redundancy rate inIrealnd , for several years before the recession-
My CO friend, who earns 30,000 PA, or 420 clear a week and has a hefty mortgage on a 1- bed room flat , got conversing with the Minister:

CO FRIEND : I can't believe you'll be out electioneering, with the bad weather and times that's in it!
MINISTER: Well, we don't all have secure jobs in the Department of XX.!

ANNA TO CALAMITY COUGHLAN*(who, in case no-one guessed, was the Minister alluded to) :
Well we don't all have husbands with well paid secure Garda jobs- or we didn't all inherit a plummy well paid TD job in our mid twenties as you did! Actually My father also died when I was around the same age ( 22-23): I just carried on in a modestly paid NI civil service clerks job, my mother was certainly not destitute, but appreciated my constant financial support. I left that job a few years later, did a few others...and spent a few years on min wage catering jobs,but last time I was on min wage was 10 years ago in Dublin. I only had myself to look after....but imagine the Misery and Despair of being on Min Wage with kids - then having it CUT.
It's hard to believe that Mary Coughlan can't see how lucky she'd be just to push off with a fat pension:
she actually came out with the above After FF lost Heavily to SF In Donegal bye election.
OH well- it's delightful to see these imbeciles give so many hostages to fortune:
Every move these FFers make and every thing they say these days moves thme closer to oblivion....but SERIOUSLY the penny won't even drop till the loudspeaker announcement:
"XX and XX are elected, the FF candidates did not reach the quota and have lost their depositS", that's if any of them even show up in the count centres.

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes. And isn't there a raft of them retiring from policics at the moment? The fact that They'll be financially better for doing so should not escape anyone.

Pity they ever go involved in the first place - and the great Irish public gobshites that vote for them, of course.

Anonymous said...

That was very touching and you seem to be very well informed and know exactly what the problem is!! During an interview on RTE Mary Coughlan spoke and acted as though she was a film star like Meryl Streep. She spoke as though had the constitutional right to succeed to be an TD. In that part of the country the people would vote for a Baboon if it was the Fianna Fail canditate. They do you know!! Look at the rest of Ireland’s politicians where brain cells are not in abundance. Mary Coughlan looked foolish and talked foolishly about frivolous things while the people of Ireland suffer. Rumour has it that she is a millionaire with a third home and many gratuitous privileges Tittle-tattle says that she started the rumour. She was interviewed on BBC "Hardtalk" by Stephen Sackur and she was clearly out of her depth in everything she said. She spoke as if stupidity was a gift from heaven. Mr Sackur looked bemused and confused. She will be re-elected next time with an even bigger majority because that is the Irish way. Reason and logic do not apply.

Ella said...

Hi GM, excellent post and Michael D is just brilliant.

The Labour Party's Joan Burton said "one in four tax units (572,963) was earning less in the entire year of 2010 than the total pay cut of €14,000 taken by the Taoiseach in the Budget.

One in five (413,287) was earning less than the total cut of €10,000 taken by ministers.

The income declines were, on average, greater in the numbers of lower paid who earn up to €50,000 and make up 84pc of all tax units."

The hardest hit are of course those on the minimum wage, then the next are really the rest of us. agh,

Anonymous said...

Is Calamity Coughlan the blonde woman sitting in front who looked bored and was ringing her hands during the budget speech? She is an inspiration to us all (to go jump in the feckin river).

Anonymous said...

Ireland needs someone like James (Big Jim) Larkin who motivated the people to take action against injustice. Mr Higgins rhetorical speech is just part of the theatricality of the Dail for TV purposes. The Labour Party will do nothing as long as they are being controlled by “another” master. They are just a puppet.

Mór Rígan said...

Thanks for posting that vid GM. It sent shivers down my spine. Michael D certainly has the passion that is seldom seen. I hope the Labour Party embrace his stated ideals and value all the children of the nation equally, unlike the current shower.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Anna. Out of touch or what? It's a bit like Flynnstone going on about running his collection of houses on the Late Late.

@ Thanks for those figures Ella.

@ Anon. Yes, Ireland does have the best politicans money can buy. And they very often are. I'd put us up there with Italy anyway. I think Michael D sounded genuine - he's been pretty consistent over the years on such issues. But let's hope Labour and FG do deliver when they get into power. I can sympathise with your scepticism, however. The Sackur interview sounds interesting - didn't see it myself.

@ Yes, Mor. Let's hope so - let's put a little flesh to the empty promises of our much-quoted Constitution, particularly with regard to something that actually matters...

Anonymous said...

It is self evident that Mr Michael D. Higgins has made a great impact. I believe that he is genuine in his aspirations.

How strange Jim Larkin was an Englishman from Liverpool. He worked hard for the good of Ireland. Because he gave money to starving strikers, the Dockers Union has him prosecuted for theft, and he was sent to prison.

It was the British Attorney General saw the injustice and had the sentence commuted. Because Jim saw the positive side of communism, The Catholic Church used the dockers union to "fit him up" and tried for embezzlement.

However, he came back and fought for the poor.
Ireland Needs a Jim Larkin like Michael D. Higgins.

Anonymous said...

In the UK there are 23 Millionaires on the government front bench. All of them were millionaires before they entered politics.

If Mary Coughlan is a millionaire because of being a politician, then, this should give rise for concern. If as suspected, all the Fianna Fail politicians on the front bench are millionaires, then Ireland is malignant. It is "a bag of pus". It needs amputation!!!

willy moore said...

That was indeed a fine speech and almost enough to make one consider voting Labour. The thing that stops me is their connection to the trade unions.

Let's be clear on this: the trades union of this country are as much to blame as the Fianna Failures for the state of the economy. They supported social partnership when it suited them despite it's ridiculous notion of linking public and private sector salaries. Of course, the associated improvements in productivity never materialised.

Their leaders salaries are linked to public sector salaries, averaging over €200,000 and they're quite happy to serve on whatever quangos they're offered by their political mates in order to further enrich themselves.

Now some of them call for General Strikes in a feeble attempt to demonstrate their support for the workers of the nation despite being up to their necks in breaking the country. The hypocrisy of it! Socialists my arse!! Has anyone checked Lenin's mausoleum to see if he's spinning yet?

FF have remained in Govt for so long by literally buying the votes of the construction industry, the middle and upper classes and the public servants. A friend of mine who is a career public servant has voted FF in every recent election despite being from a roaring Fine Gael family. When asked why, he said: "Bertie has done me no harm at all".

Too many people in this country only want to feather their own nests and feck the rest of ye and I honestly can't see that changing any time soon.............

Dakota said...

Its ironic in the extreme, that the minimum wage and middle incomes have been lowered so dramatically, at a time when some in the banking sector had the cheek to look for their back dated bonuses. Not to mention the outlandish payouts to some in the corporate sector. Laughable. Planet GUBU.

Anonymous said...

Why does Ireland not re-join The Commonwealth.
Ireland is not a Republic, and it never has been. It is a dominion of The Vatican City.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Willy Moore. Fair point - and one I've pondered myself.

@ Dakota. I think this bank bonuses thing says it all. Can you imagine it happening elsewhere? Maybe with the exception of Sicily.

@ Anon. You'll set off a few reflex knee jerks with that one - as always in Ireland. But what did "independence" get us - certainly in the form it took? Over the years, I've come to the position we'd have been better off without it.

Anonymous said...

This must be the best frigging blog I have seen, it surely covers some ground. I see what you mean about reflex knee jerks Ah! just what Ireland needs, Mind you it has it's fair share of jerks already. Look at the politicians.

Anonymous said...

The President Mary McAleese has signed the Budget. To borrow a phrase from the Sun Newspaper in 1992. “Will the last person to leave Ireland, please switch the light out”. Ireland is finished, and God knows they really deserve it.

Anonymous said...

No! they do not deserve it. Ireland has suffered enough. The Irish are a benign people, a kind benevolent and compassionate people. Ireland has been and still is bedevilled with secret societies of all dimensions. There is nothing wrong with secrecy when it is used for positive purposes like national defence, etc., but Ireland uses secrecy for bizarre reasons to do with religious domination and state corruption. Thank Goodness it has backfired and the people have become less benign.