The next vital phase of economic recovery won’t happen without pay restoration in all sectors of the Irish economy, according to IMPACT deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan. He said wage recovery was essential to improve reduced living standards and encourage domestic spending, which would in turn create more jobs.
Kevin was speaking during a panel discussion at the annual general meeting of IMPACT’s Connacht/Ulster Special Needs Assistant branch, which took place in early November in Galway.
The panel, which included Mark Fielding, CEO of Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (ISME), Labour TD Derek Nolan and Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne, discussed the motion “Would you agree that pay restoration across all sectors of the economy will aid Ireland’s economic recovery?”
The panel discussion was organised by branch chairperson David Sexton. He said the debate had energised the AGM and inspired a lively discussion. “We were delighted to get someone like Mark Fielding along to speak. He’s an outspoken critic on issues of public sector pay and unions, and I felt very strongly that we need to be having the conversation about wage recovery with people like him.
“Ultimately, his members will see improvements in their business activity if there is a wage led recovery. Our interests are not mutually exclusive, we only differ on how the best results can be achieved. He got a good welcome from our members in Connacht/Ulster and we had a lively debate. That’s exactly what we’d hoped for” he said.
Kevin said pay restoration across all sectors was the next logical and necessary step toward recovery. “We have clear signs of a modest, arguably fragile, recovery taking place. Even since October’s budget, projections of next years economic performance continue to improve, and with more people returning to work, these are all very welcome indicators of recovery. Crucially, it now looks like the Government’s deficit reduction target will be met ahead of schedule.
“But the next phase of growth is not going to happen at all, nor can current growth be sustained, unless we begin to see more widespread wage recovery. It’s the essential missing ingredient of Ireland’s fragile recovery. Continuing wage repression will stifle growth before it can take hold.
“It’s not just trade unions saying this. Companies such as Davy Stockbrokers and Investec have highlighted the upward pressure on wages as a positive indicator of improving domestic demand, and have expressed concerns that a slowing of consumer demand in September is a result of weak nominal wage growth” he said.
Kevin said that pay recovery must happen across all sectors. “There are welcome signs of pay movement across significant sections of the private sector, and the first indications of the unwinding of the legislation used to cut public sector pay. Pay improvements, even modest pay improvements, are going to increase confidence, spending, and ultimately contribute to growth in Irish business and the creation of more jobs” he said.
IMPACT’s Connacht/Ulster Special Needs Assistant branch represents SNAs in Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon and Sligo.