The Fine Gael / Labour Government has delivered on its promise to restore the minimum wage to €8.65 per hour, after Fianna Fail and the Greens cut it by €1 last February.
Now, however, it seems the Government's sights are set on other low paid workers, such as the 240,000 working under Joint Labour Committee and Registered Employment Agreements (JLC/REA).
There, it seems, is some disagreement among the coalition partners on the issue, and rightly so. It would be scandalous if the Labour Party were to acquiesce with elements of Fine Gael and the employers' groups to reduce the pay of workers already living in, or close to poverty, whilst working in precarious employment.
Already, low paid workers on as little as €4,000 have to pay the Universal Social Charge. It is a wonder that they bother to work at all given that Joan Burton has ruled out cutting the dole of the long-term unemployed... some of whom, I imagine, have never done a day's work in their lives.
Employers' group IBEC are calling for the abolition of premium payments for working Sundays - a practise it describes as "ridiculous". We can assume, however, that no-one working for IBEC is either badly paid or has to clock in on Sundays.
No doubt IBEC will cite "competitiveness" issues in their quest to further penalise the working poor. Perhaps, however, it should extract its collective head from its collective posterior and look at practices elsewhere in Europe?
I am just back from a holiday in France and had to get used to the idea of everything being closed on a Sunday. The reason for this is that the French protect their social and family time emphatically. Working on Sundays and bank holidays is obviously unsocial and French workers simply don't do it - premium payments or not.
For badly paid workers in Ireland, the only way they can bolster their wages is by working unsocial days and hours. Their terms and conditions should be left alone - there are far more deserving targets for cutbacks than the working poor.
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