10 July 2008 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

Unions reject calls for hotel pay freeze

SIPTU has rejected calls from the Irish Hotels Federation for a pay freeze for workers in the hotel and restaurant industry.
SIPTU Dublin Regional Secretary Patricia King said:
“This industry generates profits for some of the wealthiest businessmen in the country, yet most of the 97,500 workers it employs are earning only slightly more than the minimum wage. Are hoteliers seriously suggesting that these workers must tighten their belts when the soaring price of essentials eats up a disproportionate percentage of their wages already?”
Trade union Mandate has called for a flat wage increase on the basis that many low-paid workers suffer disproportionately when wage increases are percentage based rather than reflective of the industry’s performance as they do not have the same capacity as high-earners to absorb the inflation in industries.


Inflation and job losses rise as talks continue

AS social partnership talks continue, Live Register figures released for the 26 Counties by the Central Statistics Office showed that people claiming unemployment benefit have increased by over 10,000 in the past month alone.
The unemployment rate has now reached 5.7 per cent across the South. This news came as a series of redundancies was announced across the 26 Counties, particularly hitting the Shannon region.
Sykes Enterprise in County Clare has announced it is to shed a third of its workforce. Last week, a US subsidiary company of Avocent Corporation announced it will undertake a restructuring programme resulting in redundancies for over a third of its workforce.
The General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, David Begg, said this week during the social partnership talks that he believes inflation could reach 6.5 per cent by next January as a result of a recent interest hike by the European Central Bank.
He also urged the Government to speak with Jean-Claude Trichet, the head of the European Central Bank  as he thinks the moves would damage the Irish economy and “make life impossible” for people trying to pay mortgages.
The ICTU chief also raised the previous reduction in capital gains tax, tax shelters and the fact that many wealthy people in the state pay “close to zero” in tax. He suggested that these areas should be reviewed in light of the downturn in the economy and the financial pressures on workers.
The Government is expected to continue separate talks with both Congress and the employers’ representative body, IBEC, for the next fortnight but hopes of a satisfactory outcome for all parties is dwindling due to the lack of progress made so far in the talks.


Hospitals suffer from staffing levels

IT EMERGED this week that the Health Service Executive has ended out-of-hours surgical admissions to Louth County Hospital in Dundalk after a dispute with junior doctors over staffing levels.
All patients who present at the hospital after hours must now go to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
The junior doctors had objected to filling two doctors’ positions in the surgical department from 1 July, which resulted in the Irish Medical Organisation writing to the HSE to outline concerns that doctors are now expected to fill more than one role at the same time.
The IMO argued that the changes are a cost-saving initiative and demonstrated a total disregard for both doctor and patient safety.
The matter is now being referred to the Labour Relations Commission.

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