Little hope for workers from Budget 2020

Senator Marie Sherlock
13 October 2020
  • Paltry increase in minimum wage.
  • No action on sick pay.
  • Billions for business but no conditions on employment.

Any worker hoping for real support in Budget 2021 will be bitterly disappointed said Labour Employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock highlighting the miserly increase in the minimum wage, the failure to provide any right to paid sick leave, and major increases in supports for business that don’t demand any conditionality to support workers.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Despite billions of extra support in this Budget, it’s a real missed opportunity to transform our public services and support workers. The 10 cent increase to the minimum wage is an affront to workers. For over six months, essential workers, a large share of whom are low paid, have had to listen to platitudes about the need to value their work. A 10c increase in the minimum wage makes clear the hollowness of the Government’s commitments. It is an affront to the cleaners, carers and retail workers who worked through the darkest days of the pandemic so that the rest of us could stay safely at home.  

“Despite much talk from the government on sick pay, we saw nothing in the Budget to address the crisis that has hit those on the frontline without any paid right to sick leave. Childcare workers, those in meat plants and agency healthcare staff were all ignored in this budget.

“In sharp contrast, Labour’s alternative budget for 2021 was first and foremost a budget for workers. With so many working people struggling through the pandemic, it was vital concrete steps were taken to protect incomes, safeguard workers’ health and ensuring a fair Covid recovery but despite much talk there was no restoration of the cuts to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

“It is vital that workers are able to look after their health, and that the lack of paid sick leave for so many employees is addressed immediately. Labour proposed an investment of €70 million for a comprehensive sick pay scheme, to include: 

  • The ability to claim Illness Benefit from the second day of an illness, rather than the current requirement to wait six days without pay; 
  • A hardship fund to support small and medium enterprises who have difficulty covering sick leave;  
  • Guaranteed sick leave for workers in the childcare sector
  • A €5 million levy on the meat processing sector, where only 20% of workers enjoy paid sick leave

“In addition to these measures, Labour wanted to deliver for low-paid workers by raising the national minimum wage by twice the level currently recommended by the Government. This is with a medium-term view to increasing the minimum wage to bring it to a Living Income as a minimum for all workers. We also proposed an extra €300 million in supports and restart grants to help support struggling businesses through the months ahead.” 

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