Jobs budget ‘first step’ in dealing with crisis

THE Government is refusing to put a figure on the number of people who will be put back to work by next week’s jobs budget, describing it as a “small first step” in dealing with the unemployment crisis.

Planned changes to sectoral wage agreements — including overtime and Sunday rates — are also expected to be announced next week.

Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, Richard Bruton was unable to give any reassurances to the 400,000 workers subject to these agreements that their earnings will not be effected.

The jobs initiative, to be unveiled in the Dáil on Tuesday, will outline an “agenda of work” for the next four years “to make jobs a genuine priority in this country” according to Mr Bruton.

Asked what effect the initiative might have on live register figures within a year, Mr Burton said he was “not seeking to put a figure on that”.

Speaking after the announcement of 300 jobs in South Dublin’s Dundrum Shopping Centre, Mr Bruton said a report on reform of wage agreements will be published next week.

New laws will be needed to bring about those changes and Mr Bruton confirmed to the Dáil that they’ll apply to the 400,000 workers already signed up to them as well as new entrants.

People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, said these workers have “already been hammered by child benefit cuts and the universal social charge”. He said: “They are really struggling.”

But Mr Bruton said work changes are needed to reduce pressure on employers.

“The main sectors affected are retail, catering, hotels and construction. In the past three years, we have seen a 60% loss of employment in construction, 15% in retail and wholesale and more than twice that in the lower paid occupations. The figures are similar for hotel and catering, with over 20% of jobs lost,” he said.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said “the current austerity measures will drive us into deep depression” and called for more stimulus measures to create jobs.

It is proposing a state holding company which would allow semi-state companies use their assets to secure private funding from abroad to boost economic growth.

In a letter to the Taoiseach, ICTU general secretary, David Begg, said: “The best way of getting early results on employment would be to ask some of the larger semi-state companies to take on specific labour intensive infrastructural projects and to finance them themselves.”

“These companies already have the financial strength, management capacity, geographic spread, administrative infrastructure and procurement capability to move quickly. It is worth thinking about,” he said.


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