Trade unions warn of higher pay demands if housing costs continue to rise

Patricia King says unions would intervene if Government fails to act on housing crisis

Patricia King, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Photograph: Eric Luke

Patricia King, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Photograph: Eric Luke


Trade unions have indicated they may seek higher pay rises next year to compensate members for rising housing costs, if the current crisis continues in the area.

The general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Patricia King said the issue would be examined when its private sector committee met in October to consider its advice to unions on pay strategy for 2018.

She suggested unions would intervene to protect their members if the Government failed to act on the housing crisis.

The general secretary of the Mandate trade union John Douglas said unions had been reasonable in pay demands over recent years. However, he said segments of ordinary working people were now being priced out of the housing market. He said, if it continued, pressure would come on wage claims.

Ms King said that, as far back as the 1970s, special allowances were introduced for workers in London to take account of higher living costs there.

Trade unions on Wednesday urged the Government to introduce a local authority-led programme to build 50,000 social housing units over the next five years. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) said the Government should declare a “housing emergency”.

Ms King said 10,000 housing units should be provided annually and this would cost €1.8 billon per year. Ms King also called on the Government to introduce measures to penalise land hoarding.

She said Ictu believed there should be a vacant site levy and this should be set at 6 per cent. She said it should come into effect in January next year.

“There is enough serviced land in existence to build almost 400,000 homes. We believe local authorities should be empowered to make compulsory purchase orders of land for housing at 25 per cent above the agricultural land use value, Ms King said.

She said if compulsory purchase orders could be used to facilitate road construction, then why not for houses.