Belfast Telegraph

Union: Workers face food struggle

Around a third of workers in one of the country's leading trade unions are having difficulties feeding and clothing their families after wage cuts, a survey shows.

Mandate, which represents 45,000 people employed by retailers, said four in 10 members have seen their pay drop more than 100 euro a week as a result of reduced hours, increased taxes and levies.

John Douglas, the union's general secretary, said the government needs to focus more on the type of jobs being created if it is serious about combating poverty.

"This research shows that Ireland's labour market crisis will not be solved with a more jobs at any cost strategy," he said. "We need to look at the quality of jobs that are being created otherwise we will just increase the number of working poor."

The Mandate survey found 39% of its members reported an average fall of 109 euro a week in their take home pay over the last year. Workers' hours have dropped by more than 4% since last year, with a sharper decline of almost 6% for part-timers.

Around a third of those polled are finding it difficult to pay off household loans while four in 10 are having problems paying their mortgage or rent.

More than half are struggling to pay their gas, electricity and heating bills while over 70% of the workers have cut back on spending so much they are far less likely to go to the doctor, the study carried out by pollsters Behaviour and Attitudes reveals.

Most of the union's members are on part-time contracts and work on average 22 hours a week.

Researcher Camille Loftus said recent reforms on wage-setting announced by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton were not helping the precarious position facing many retail workers.

"We are urging Minister Bruton to review his proposed reforms as a matter of priority," she added.

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