Covid bonus must be extended to low paid private sector workers

Senator Marie Sherlock
19 January 2022

Labour Party Spokesperson for Employment, Senator Marie Sherlock has today said the Government must do all they can to ensure frontline workers in the private sector are not excluded from any Covid dividend paid in recognition of our collective efforts to keep Ireland going throughout the pandemic.

Senator Sherlock said:

“While the Labour Party broadly welcome the announcement of a double public holiday in March and the €1000 to be paid to frontline health workers, the proposals fall short of proper acknowledgement of all those who had to go out and risk their health to keep our country going and our people safe throughout the pandemic.

“We believe we need to see a dividend for all essential workers. These workers are our cleaners, bus drivers, they worked round the clock in our shops, fire services, picked up our bins, and kept food on our tables. There are a range of mechanisms to identify these workers and reward them for their essential work, sacrifice and serve to our communities.

“To do this, the Government can draw down on the list of essential workers to access tax records and issue a payment accordingly. Employers that can afford it should also make it their business to reward their staff and the Government should be actively encouraging them to do so. The reality is that large share of workers in private sector employments who had to work during the height of the pandemic are already extremely low paid and €1000 would make a big difference.

“The big question the Government must answer as we enter 2022 must be how will they address the wider issue of why real wages are now stagnating or falling particularly for lower paid workers and what can be done. We need a national conversation on how we can put an end to our low wage Republic and improve the lives of all workers across society. Nothing less will do.”

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