Gutless IBEC response to small business trading issues is to target lowest paid

Senator Marie Sherlock
22 January 2024
  • IBEC’s letter to the government is misleading in portraying all the workers’ rights changes as an increase in the cost of doing business. No reference to Government package of €250m to rateable businesses.
  • No new ideas from IBEC on how to support small businesses other than to go after workers already struggling to get by.

Labour’s Worker’s Rights Spokesperson Senator Marie Sherlock has called out IBEC’s recent letter to Government as gutless and reactionary in responding to the recent spate of small business closures in some of our main urban centres over recent weeks.

Senator Sherlock said

“IBEC’s response demonstrates a complete disregard for the realities faced by workers who keep these businesses operating, day in, day out.  The reality is that in many small retail and hospitality businesses, workers earn the national minimum wage or just above it. Wages that do not even afford a minimum standard of living. There is a hypocrisy at the heart of statements by employers representatives in recent months relating to pay. They know that pay and the enormous cost of renting a property for the first time is a major factor behind the difficulties in recruiting staff.

“Unfortunately, we see no imagination or proposals from IBEC today to the very real issues for businesses in terms of very high energy bills, the reinstatement of 13% VAT rate and the impending repayment of warehoused which are now falling due. IBEC also seems to have ignored the Government’s own cost of doing business scheme which is giving out in €250 million in rates rebate to a rateable businesses.

“We know there is a serious issue for small and micro enterprises and there does need to be a serious conversation about how they should be supported. This must not involve freezing wages, instead we need to look at how the Government’s own €17 billion public procurement budget can be used to support decent wages and businesses, we need to look at the targeting of the rates rebate and open up a conversation about we tailor supports to micro firms within retail and hospitality and ensure that some of the biggest and most profitable employers do not pocket government supports.

“It’s time for Government to step up and lead a constructive dialogue on how we can genuinely support micro-businesses. Our focus should be on innovative solutions that ensure the well-being of both workers and enterprises, steering away from proposals that disproportionately impact the lowest-paid. Let’s build an inclusive economy that works for everyone.”

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