A Union leader has rightly stated that more must be done for the lowest-paid workers in Northern Ireland if the current Covid-19 restrictions are extended later this month.
The ICTU Assistant General Secretary Owen Reidy has said that 80% of hospitality workers earn less than the living wage. This means that their furlough pay will take many of them under the national minimum wage.
He warned that many workers are not self-isolating because “they simply cannot afford to”, and he described this as “a failure of strategy.”
Mr Reidy also pointed out that the sick pay is a “paltry” £95 per week, and some workers choose not to get tested if they have symptoms and then carry on working out of necessity.
Yet if some do test positive, they keep on working because they cannot live on the inadequate sick pay.
This is an untenable situation, and more thought needs to be given to their plight.
As Mr Reidy said, the economically vulnerable, as well as those vulnerable to the virus, must be protected.