Calls for 5% pay hikes for workers

The leader of the country’s largest trade union will today announce a campaign for 5% pay rises across the economy and for the introduction of a minimum "living" wage of €11.45 across a number of sectors.

Calls for 5% pay hikes for workers

In a speech to be given at Glasnevin Cemetery today, Jack O’Connor will also say Siptu members will engage in a “national campaign to apply pressure on the Government to commence the task of abolishing the universal social charge”.

The Siptu leader will say that, in place of USC, the campaign will seek what he calls a “new mechanism” which, he says, “will be equally efficient as a means of raising revenue from the better off while removing the burden on those on low to middle incomes”.

A 5% increase is significantly above the 2% average employer’s body Ibec predicted for this year. Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy warned earlier this month that many companies “remain in survival mode” and cannot afford pay rises.

In relation to the €11.45 minimum living wage, he will say it will be part of a new battle to confront exploitation of vulnerable workers in those sectors where “gross exploitation is the order of the day”.

“Apart from the critical role of this agenda in terms of rebuilding the living standards of working people and combating inequality in our society, putting money in people’s pockets will also fuel consumption reinforcing the momentum of job creation and recovery,” Mr O’Connor will tell those gathered to mark the commemoration of the death of Jim Larkin in 1947.

“We are back on the offensive to begin retrieving the ground lost during the period which followed the implosion of the credit-fuelled property bubble and the great collapse of the capitalist economic system globally in 2008.”

The Siptu leader will also say that last weekend’s election victory for Syriza in Greece signals the end of what he calls the nightmare of the one-sided austerity experiment across Europe.

Mr O’Connor will also call for parties and individuals of the left to develop a political project that can win the next general election on a common platform, free of the restrictions of sectarian party political interests.

“We have to develop clear, coherent priorities around egalitarian concepts of public provision underpinned by fair taxation and sustainable economic growth,” he said. “Moreover, we have to be able to demonstrate the capacity to provide stable Government and an economic and industrial policy that recognises the reality of globalisation and the key role that foreign direct investment must continue to play here for a long time to come.

“However, what the first left-of-centre government in the history of the State could do is to reassert the interests of the common good.”

Mr O’Connor says it is not enough for one party or individual of the left to do well in the election — if that happens the “political right” will win the overall election, he warns.

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