Government’s business support package dismissed as election ploy by Ictu

Taoiseach Simon Harris’s new enterprise support package for small and medium-sized businesses will leave the lowest-paid, sick, migrant and retired workers “paying the price” for Government “bowing to business lobbyists”, trade unions have said.

The Government last week committed to financially stress-testing any additional sick pay entitlements on small businesses, and has separately pressed the pause button on planned moves to a minimum living wage.

At their monthly meeting and in advance of a Dáil discussion on the latest business support package, the executive council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) roundly condemned the Coalition for approving the measures.

Ictu said the series of “anti-worker measures” cannot be justified in a booming economy that is at close to full employment. It pointed out that the hospitality and retail sectors have seen employment growth in excess of the economywide average.

“These sectors are, on the whole, performing extremely well,” it said. “There are restaurant closures. But in good time and bad hospitality tends to have high rates of churn. There is a consistent historical trend of above-average deaths and births in the sector, indicating a sector with a naturally high degree of churn. It is important to bear this in mind when discussing individual cases of business closure.”

Ictu said trade unions “have never denied sector specific challenges” and that vulnerable but viable businesses “should be supported”.

“But those business supports should be targeted, time-limited and agreed through dialogue with trade unions and business representatives. Workers cannot be left to pick up the tab.

“The package includes measures that seek to undo multiyear commitments to improve wage floors and income protection which if pursued will disproportionally hurt vulnerable workers and benefit all businesses, not just those struggling.

“This package of supports is designed with one overarching aim – to win over business groups in advance of elections. Workers and unions won’t easily forget or forgive broken promises.”

The group said stopping or slowing the roll-out of sick pay would benefit “every employer in the country, profitable and struggling”, while penalising half the private sector workforce – over 1 million employees – who have no sick pay in their terms and conditions.


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