Retailers accused of unnecessary cuts

 

A trade union today accused some retailers of taking advantage of the economic downturn by forcing lay-offs, wage cuts and reduced working conditions on low-paid staff despite healthy profits.

Mandate said employees across the sector have lost up to 12 hours per week because of cutbacks, with pay dropping about €100 for full-time staff.

At the union’s biennial conference in Galway, general secretary John Douglas said Irish retail wages are not as uncompetitive as bosses suggest.

“Despite claims of some industry lobbyists, pay rates in Ireland are not significantly higher than in the UK or other comparative European cities,” he said.

Mr Douglas pointed to a study by FGS Consulting for think-tank Forfás which estimates that a sales assistant in Dublin in 2008 was earning €22,000, and in Cork, Galway or Limerick €17,500.

The union chief also said attempts at cutting pay by profitable retailers were not that well thought-through.

“Irish retail workers tend to spend almost all of their income in the local economy,” he said.

“They tend to buy groceries in their local shop, buy clothes in their local drapery store and buy drink in their local pub. Without this spending, the Irish economy would crumble.

“When a profitable retailer takes money out of the pockets of their employees, it obviously means there is less spending in their local communities and therefore more jobs are lost.

“It’s a vicious circle.” Mr Douglas said firms acting in such a manner were increasing the length of the recession.