Employers will face pay claims over housing crisis, Ictu warns

Patricia King urges abolition of lower VAT rate for the hospitality sector in the budget

General secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions  Patricia King said the retention of the 9 per cent Vat rate for the hospitality sector was ‘pure wrong’.

General secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Patricia King said the retention of the 9 per cent Vat rate for the hospitality sector was ‘pure wrong’.

 

Employers will face pay claims to compensate for soaring accommodation costs unless there is an immediate policy shift by Government to tackle the housing crisis, the general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has said.

Addressing the biennial delegate conference of the Siptu trade union in Cork, Patricia King said rent now accounted for 27 per cent of workers’ disposable income and this was severely impacting on living standards.

She said thousands of young families were also under pressure when it came to acquiring a home.

“At a recent meeting with the Minister for Housing, I set out to him that the trade union movement will be to the fore in insisting on an immediate Government policy shift to resolve this emergency or employers will face pay claims to counteract these exorbitant costs workers are faced with.”

Ms King said the trade union movement wanted to see 50,000 public housing units built over the next five years.

She said all land required should be made available through compulsory purchase orders where necessary.

“The vacant site levy should be increased to six per cent and implemented immediately.”

“Legislation should be enacted to protect tenants upon the sale of resident property, in line with commercial tenancy where sake does not, in fact, affect sitting tenants.”

Ms King also strongly condemned as “pure wrong” the lower 9 per cent VAT rate for the hospitality sector and said she had “robustly” urged Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to end it during a recent meeting.

Ms King said the lower VAT rate had cost the State €2.2 billion in tax foregone and there was little evidence any of this had been passed on to customers.

She maintained the job creation figures put forward by the hospitality sector in its defence of the lower VAT rate were “fictitious” while at the same time profits in the sector had soared.

She said Central Statistics Office figures clearly showed job growth in the hospitality sector was in line with the general economic growth for the period 2010 - 2017.

Ms King argued bigger and more profitable companies were the main beneficiaries of the lower VAT rate.

“Most shameful of all is the fact that 75 per cent of workers in this sector earn €400 per week or less and the employers continue to resist co-operation with the Joint Labour Committee (wage determination) system.”

“The question is, as I put it to the Minister, why should taxpayers subsidise some of the most profitable global companies in the work and the answer (which he didn’t give) is that it is pure wrong and there is no excuse for the Government continuing to support it”.