The Government would seem to be considering a betrayal of workers while showering its largesse on business according to SIPTU Deputy General Secretary for the Private Sector, Greg Ennis.

“Public pronouncements by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Peter Burke about the rise which is due in the National Minimum Wage and the Government’s commitment to legislate for improvements to the Statutory Sick Pay Scheme would seem to be setting the scene for an unacceptable betrayal of workers”, Ennis said.

“While doubling the Innovation Voucher Scheme from €5,000 to €10,000, an increased energy efficiency grant and highering the PRSI thresholds benefit small and medium employers, where stands this Government on its commitments to workers? The answer is it seems to plan to renege on them.

“The Government, in recent days, has committed to provide an additional €66 million in increased financial support for the business sector. This is being done while it simultaneously threatens to renege on its commitments that the National Minimum Wage will match the Living Wage by 2026 and that statutory sick pay coverage will increase in stages to ten days over the next eighteen months.

“Such an approach seeks to undermine the work of the Low Pay Commission. The independence and authority of this Body should not be jeopardised in any way and it must be left to continue its work without fear of intervention. The Government must also reflect on why it had committed to improvements in statutory sick pay, which would bring this very limited scheme somewhat closer to that of most other EU states. The change was a recommendation of the Final Report of the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19. 

“This cross-party Committee recognised the need for essential low-paid workers, such as those in the meat processing and food production sectors, to have adequate sick pay provision”.

He added: “Minister Burke must not renege on Government commitments to bring the level of the National Minimum Wage to that of the Living Wage by 2026 and must comply with existing legislation concerning statutory sick leave improvements in 2025 and 2026. Failure of the Government to do so would be a betrayal of workers in Ireland of a degree that my Union cannot accept.”