Network calls for measures to ensure income equality


THE CLAIMING Our Future national citizens’ network has called for an independent “high pay” commission and a campaign to copperfasten income equality as a constitutional right.

The network, which held its second national forum in Galway at the weekend, is also seeking the introduction of an independent annually assessed minimum-income threshold to ensure low income households can live in “decency and dignity”.

Some 300 participants from the community and voluntary, trade union and environmental sectors attended the second forum at NUI Galway, with income inequality being the main theme.

The format of round-table discussions – with no politicians present – expressed opposition to plans by Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton to reform the wage-setting mechanisms of the joint labour committees.

This would weaken protections for low-paid workers, a number of participants pointed out. Measures to limit very high incomes through pay controls, taxation or a mixture of both were also discussed.

Proposals for an annual wealth audit and for the creation of media outlets which challenged the perceived narrow agenda held by existing media were debated.

Four consensors representing trade unions, community, voluntary and environmental groups compiled views, which were of “tweet length” or 140 characters, under the forum guidelines.

Claiming Our Future spokesman Niall Crowley said that tackling income inequality had been one of a series of key themes identified at the first such forum, which was attended by more than 1,000 people in the RDS, Dublin, last October.

The wide income gap, where the top 10 per cent of households were earning 11 times that of the poorest households, was not just an economic issue, he said. It was having a detrimental impact on Irish society.