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Labour says workers need mix of permanent and temporary wage supports to combat cost of living crisis

17 May 2022

Labour spokesperson on employment and workers’ rights, Marie Sherlock has today (Tuesday, 17th May) said workers need a sustainable package of permanent and temporary wages increases to cope with the enormous spike in cost of living.

Her call comes as the ICTU private sector committee met today to discuss its wage bargaining strategy for this year.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The alarming news today that interest rates could go up by 0.5% this July will be a substantial hit for hundreds of thousands hard pressed people and their families and with inflation already running at 7% this means workers cannot wait any longer. Ireland needs a pay rise now.

“Government can make this happen by meaningfully supporting unions and employers to find a fair way forward and the best possible deal for public and private sector workers. We believe pay increases are the absolute best way for workers to cope with sustained increases in rents and mortgages. The reality is that almost 60% of tracker and variable mortgage holders will be hit by the ECB interest rate increases in the second half of the year, plus thousands of renters whose landlords’ buy to let mortgages will also be hit, this is a car crash waiting to happen.

“We believe negotiated pay increases cannot happen in isolation. They must be assisted by immediate changes to the tax law which would see the rules on tax free Benefit in Kind allowances go from €600 to €2000. This measure would have a significant benefit for workers in being able to clear accumulating utility bills and other expenses.

“While the suddenness of the inflationary increases over the past four months have surprised many, the reality is that we have a permanent cost of living crisis in this country- with the cost of housing, crippling childcare costs and long reneged commitments to expand free GP care to all.

“The government must step up the mark to ensure that there are permanent reductions to the cost of living in this country, reducing consumption taxes and introducing price controls to cushion the blow for so many consumers.

“The Government can make a real and tangible start in taking the pressure off workers by legislating for Labour’s Living Wage Bill without delay."