SIPTU has welcomed the decision of the Low Pay Commission to recommend that there should not be any increase in the amount employers can deduct from workers’ pay for the cost of board and lodgings. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Ed Kenny, said: “A SIPTU delegation, which included workers directly affected by this issue met with the Low Pay Commission to outline our position that there should not be any increase in the amount employers can deduct from workers’ pay for the cost of board and lodgings. We are glad to see that the SIPTU position on this issue has been accepted by the Commission in its report.  “Any increase in these costs would only amount to a decrease in take home pay for some of the lowest paid workers in our economy, many of whom on average earn only approximately €400 a week.” SIPTU Services Division President, Margaret Coffey, a contract catering worker from Cork, said: “I am pleased that the Low Pay Commission has taken on board the concerns of workers like myself in relation to this issue. As a member of the SIPTU delegation which met with the Commission to discuss this issue I made very clear what effect any increase would have on already hard pressed workers. “It is to be particularly welcomed that the recently announced 30 cents increase in the minimum wage will now have a beneficial impact for low paid workers and not be simply swallowed by an increase in deductions for board and lodgings.” SIPTU Services Division Organiser, Ethel Buckley, said: “The best way of dealing with the issue of board and lodgings is through negotiations at a Joint Labour Committee. Issues concerning board and lodgings should be a matter for social dialogue and collective bargaining by the representatives of employees and employers as they are in most other EU and OECD countries. “Unfortunately, such a process in the hotel and catering industries in Ireland is being hampered by the refusal of employers in these sectors to engage in sectoral based collective bargaining on wages and conditions in accordance with stated government policy. “It has been the long held position of SIPTU that it is completely unacceptable that while employers in these sectors continue to subvert Government policy they benefit from the preferential VAT rate which is applicable to the hospitality sector. This situation needs to end if the Government does not wish to be seen to be rewarding those who seek to exploit the low paid.” The report recommends that employers should be allowed to deduct 82 cents for board and lodgings per hour and €21.85 or €3.14 per day for lodgings only.