Siptu president Jack O’Connor has announced his union has begun its “major push” for pay increases across the private sector.
Speaking at the annual Jim Larkin commemoration in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery yesterday Mr O’Connor said workers needed to recover ground lost during the recessionary years.
“That is why we are engaged in a major push to win pay increases across the private sector.
“We know that there is space to do it without endangering job creation, because unit labour costs have fallen significantly vis à vis our major trading partners due to wage stagnation and increased productivity over the last five years.”
He said the best way to stimulate domestic demand, which accounts for three quarters of the economy, is by growing consumption.
“And the best way to do this is by increasing pay and purchasing power and we are precisely focussed on assisting workers to organise themselves to this end,” he said.
Last month employers’ body Ibec also said there was a need to increase disposable income — but wanted that to happen through tax cuts and not through across-the-board pay increases.
However, yesterday Mr O’Connor said there was no justification for tax cuts aimed at high earners.
“We utterly reject calls by some among the business and employer organisations for further cuts in public spending to fund tax reductions for those on higher incomes.
“They never specify as to whether these additional cuts should be inflicted on the struggling public health service, or on what remains of a housing programme, or on the education sector, or on such provision as exists for care of the elderly, or otherwise.
“As far as they are concerned democratically elected politicians are there to take the blame for these choices.
“Having escaped contributing anything rem-otely approaching their capacity to do so during the dark years of one-sided austerity they now want to get back to business as usual.
“All they know is that they want more, much, much more, and they don’t give a damn who suffers the consequences.”
Mr O’Connor said there was a compelling case for measures to alleviate the tax burden on lower to middle-income families. He suggested that could be in the form of a refundable child tax credit or expanding the lower bands for the universal social charge.
“But there is none — absolutely none for tax cuts for the rich,” he said.
“Indeed they should actually be contributing more precisely to provide the means to alleviate the burden on citizens generally.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved