Belfast Telegraph

Union launches drive for pay rises

Siptu, the country's largest trade union, has announced a campaign for 5% pay increases in the public and private sectors.

In a speech delivered in Dublin, Siptu president Jack O'Connor said that the union would also engage in a "new battle" for a minimum living wage of 11.45 euro an hour across all sectors of the economy.

He called for the abolition of the universal social charge and for Irish social democrats, left-wing republicans and independent socialists to unite on a common platform with the aim of winning the next general election.

Mr O'Connor said: "The light of improving economic conditions we are embarking on a major campaign targeting pay increases of 5% across the economy.

"Meanwhile, we will soon be confronting exploitation in a new battle to establish a minimum living wage of 11.45 euro an hour across all those sectors of the economy where the gross exploitation of vulnerable workers is the order of the day.

"In parallel with all of this we are preparing a national campaign to apply pressure on the Government to commence the task of abolishing the Universal Social Charge and replacing it with a new mechanism which will be equally efficient as a means of raising revenue from the better off while removing the burden on those on low to middle incomes."

The announcements were made at Glasnevin Cemetery to mark the anniversary of the death of union leader James Larkin in 1947.

Mr O'Connor welcomed the election victory of radical left-wing party Syriza in Greece last weekend and said it signalled the end of the "experiment" of austerity across Europe.

"The intellectual case for one-sided austerity is utterly redundant," he said.

"It didn't work in theory and now we know, at horrendous cost, that it doesn't work in practice either. The experiment has been tried and failed spectacularly.

"That analysis is no longer restricted to those on the left but is clearly evident across the mainstream of the political spectrum."

Mr O'Connor said that a "concordat" between labour and capital to replicate post-war economic growth.

His comments came as the Government is set to engage in talks with public service trade unions on rolling back financial emergency legislation which led to public sector pay cuts.

Ministers have suggested at a return to the social partnership process which collapsed in late 2009 when the Fianna Fail/Green coalition introduced the cuts.

The Government is currently establishing a Low Pay Commission to asses the national minimum wage, which stands at 8.65 euro.

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