Ireland’s Fight For 15

Mandate Trade Union General Secretary, John Douglas, has called on all workers in the retail and bar trades to join their union and win pay rates of at least €15 per hour.

In a speech to the Mandate Biennial Delegate Conference in Wexford, Mr Douglas said that “no retail worker in Ireland should earn less than the living wage,” which is currently set at €11.70 per hour.

He went further, stating that the “union rate” should be “at least 30 percent above than the living wage”, which equates to €15 per hour.

“We have a very serious problem in Ireland with, on the one hand, low pay and insecure work, and on the other hand, high costs of living,” said Mr Douglas.

“This is leading to many of the social problems we see today including the dramatic increase in homelessness across the country, along with high poverty and deprivation rates.

“If we are to tackle this crisis,” continued Mr Douglas, “it will mean winning significant pay increases for many low paid workers.”

Mandate, which represents 40,000 workers in the retail and bar sectors, has been winning pay increases for its 40,000 members since 2013. The union has quantifed these at more than €60 million.

A survey conducted by the Mandate in 2016 showed that unionised workers in retail outlets earned 30 percent more than those in non-union outlets.

The Union has also won secure hour contracts in a range of employments including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Boots, Penneys, Supervalu and others and has led the way in lobbying for legislation to protect low hour contract workers from exploitation.

“The benefits that our members enjoy in retail, including pay rates in excess of €15 per hour in some instances, were not handed to them freely by some benevolent employer. They were fought for and they were won through workers joining their trade union and getting active,” said Mr Douglas.

“Ireland is one of the most profitable countries in the world to be a major retail outlet, and we know that Tesco Ireland make approximately €250 million in profit every year while Dunnes Stores make €200 million,” he said.

“There is absolutely no doubt that many employers can afford to increase pay rates for their staff and give them secure hour contracts. They simply choose not to, and instead prioritise shareholders and wealthy owners over their workers,” concluded Mr Douglas.


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