By Laura Fitzgerald
THE FOREMOST employers’ organisation in the country, IBEC, is becoming increasingly vocal in its condemnation of the Joint Labour Committee (JLC) system. The JLC system sets minimum pay and conditions in certain industries, including catering, contract cleaning and the hotel sector.
“Of particular concern is the inflexibility of the JLC system to adjust to the implications for jobs and enterprise as a result of a downturn”, said Brendan McGinty, human resource director of IBEC at a conference this month. Similarly a new alliance of the bosses of the fast food outlets, such as McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Supermacs and the Bagel Factory, called the Quick Service Food Alliance, is launching a legal challenge to the JLC system and Sunday pay rates, which is due in court in Autumn. Quite simply, IBEC and co. are using the excuse of the recession to remove any barriers, including legal ones, to complete flexibility to allow them to drive down wages and conditions of workers.
Young people make up a high proportion of the workforce in industries covered by JLCs, namely in low-paid service jobs. Consequently, IBEC have cited the (frequently flouted) laws that flow from the Protection of Young Persons in Employment Act of 1996 as “of concern”. IBEC has all the pillars of the establishment on its side in its quest to mire young workers in poverty and super-exploitation.
This is shown by a recent court ruling by a judge in Athlone. Supermacs was brought to court for over 20 breaches of protection of young people in employment laws, all perpetrated at the expense of a 16 year old girl who worked very late hours. Unbelievably, the judge dismissed the case for no legal reason with Supermacs getting off scot free. We can’t rely on anyone but ourselves to stop this rotten agenda of the establishment – young people need to get organised and fight back as a matter of urgency!
Bosses say: Cut the dole & minimum wage
Make them emigrate!
The agenda of the establishment is clear – use the recession as an excuse to slash wages and conditions of workers. In line with this, there is a drive to cut the dole with a view to ensuring workers are forced to take up very low-paid work, probably on a lowered rate of minimum wage. Socialist Youth reporters give us updates on this agenda and raise the need for young people to fight back.
By Liam Cullinane
GER O’MAHONEY, the new president of the Cork chamber of commerce, has called for the slashing of the dole and the minimum wage in order to facilitate Cork business interests. These measures, hopes the new president, will force unemployed workers to emigrate, an outcome which O’Mahoney seems to regard as not just necessary but desirable!
These comments did not occur in isolation but echo remarks made earlier this year by Billy Kelleher T.D, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association and many other representatives of the political and business elite. It is increasingly clear from these statements and others that the business establishment and their cronies in Fianna Fáil are preparing to launch an attack on social welfare and the minimum wage, potentially in next December’s budget.
Any cuts to the dole or social welfare would push thousands of people into unbearable poverty, as the current jobseekers allowance of just €204.30 is barely enough to survive on, while the weekly minimum wage of €346 is little better.
These measures would hit all working families hard, but would have a particularly negative impact on young workers, who are most likely to be employed in low wage jobs. In addition, up to 25% of those on the dole queues are young workers under 25 years of age, who are already suffering from the cuts in rent allowance and the halving of the dole for under 20s.
Ger O’Mahoney and the rest of the capitalist establishment want the most vulnerable workers in society to pay for the recession caused by the greed and speculation of the wealthy. Therefore a real fight back is a must in order to defend our most basic rights and living standards from the slash and burn policies of the government and their business partners.