Eleventh-hour decision on EWSS indictment of Government’s failure to develop permanent short-time work scheme

09 December 2021

• Labour repeats call for new German-style short-time work scheme
• Failure to extend CRSS shows government at sixes and sevens

Labour’s Finance spokesperson Ged Nash has welcomed the government’s eleventh-hour decision to restore the previous rates of the EWSS to businesses adversely affected by new public health restrictions.

However, he said that the last-minute decision has created unnecessary anxiety for hospitality sector business owners and workers.

Deputy Nash said:

“The dogs on the street could predict that NPHET would recommend new measures focused on bars, restaurants and the live entertainment sector yet the government dragged its feet on restoring the old rates of the wage subsidy scheme. The ‘will-they won’t they’ drama has caused huge stress for a sector that is reliant on a good Christmas period.

“This uncertainty and anxiety would have been avoidable if government had decided to take my advice at the start of the pandemic and design a proper, German-style short-time working scheme and embed it as a permanent feature of the labour market.

“Such schemes are designed to provide employment subsidies to businesses and training support to workers in economic sectors where a shock or major disruption is being experienced. Critically, government financial support is contingent on a commitment to decent employment.

“No such scheme exists in Ireland and with the EWSS due to expire in April, the government needs to focus now on designing a new system inspired by the successful German Kurzarbeit model.

“The failure to extend and target the CRSS shows that the government is at sixes and sevens in terms of planning to address the impact of the latest restrictions on certain sectors.

“They had plenty of time to either revise the CRSS or explore other ways of supporting business whose turnover has fallen off a cliff in order to help them to meet their fixed costs but they failed to do so.”

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