The Mandate trade union has accused the Government of "scapegoating" workers on lower and middle incomes in this afternoon’s Budget.
The union – which represents over 45,000 workers in the bar and retail trades – has criticized the inclusion of lower paid workers in the tax net and the cuts made to welfare payments such as Child Benefit.
John Douglas, Mandate’s General Secretary, said the Budget measures, combined with the proposed €1 per hour reduction in the National Minimum Wage, represent an extraordinary "double whammy" aimed at the "working poor".
Mr Douglas said: "The Government’s tax strategy is totally regressive as it focuses on bringing more lower paid workers into the tax net and doesn’t address the issue of getting more tax from those on very high incomes.
John Douglas said that the proposal to cut the National Minimum Wage is a retrograde step that will actually damage the economy.
Mr Douglas said: "Ireland’s minimum wage has been consistently misrepresented as disproportionately high when this is not the case. This rhetoric diverts from the real issue of wage disparity and social inequality.
"Other EU countries such as France, Belgium, and the Netherlands have similar minimum wages, yet their cost of living is considerably lower. In fact, other EU countries are also continuing to increase minimum wages in the recession, in order to encourage consumption.
"It is clear that this Government’s days are numbered and that they only enjoy minimal electoral support. The people of this country need to show that they will not tolerate such undemocratic action and insist that there is a General Election at the earliest possible date so that we can put in place a new Government that will look to address our problems through creating jobs and growing the economy," he concluded.