A recent report published by the Irish trade union Mandate has revealed that nearly two-thirds of retail workers in the country are earning below €451 per week due to low hours. The report highlights the impact of poverty pay on workers in the commerce sector and calls for urgent action to address the issue.
According to the report, which surveyed over 1,000 retail workers across the country, more than 60% of respondents said they were earning less than €451 per week. This figure is significantly below the living wage in Ireland, which is currently set at €12.30 per hour, or approximately €497 per week for a full-time worker.
The report also found that the problem of low pay in the commerce sector is closely linked to low hours. Nearly 80% of workers surveyed said they were not guaranteed a set number of hours each week, and more than half said their hours had been reduced in the past year.
This has led to a situation where many retail workers are struggling to make ends meet, with some being forced to rely on social welfare payments to supplement their income. The report notes that this is particularly acute for women and young workers, who are over-represented in the sector.
“Our experience on the ground shows that where extra hours are available, many companies are actively choosing to by-pass offering those hours to existing staff who are looking for them, instead choosing to go with ‘new starts’ in order to keep wage their bills down,” said Gerry Light, General Secretary of Mandate.
The issue of low pay and insecure work has long been a concern for trade unions in Ireland, and the Mandate report is the latest in a series of studies highlighting the issue. The union is calling on the government to take action to address the problem, including introducing legislation to guarantee minimum hours for workers and increasing the minimum wage to a living wage level.
“When retail corporations push precarious contracts, working people pay the price. A low number of guaranteed hours, working times that oscillate from one week to the next, low hourly pay… This is a recipe for driving people into desperation. This is a huge sector of employment and governments cannot allow corporate leaders to abandon their workforce in this way. Many of the key players are multinationals and the EU has a key role to ensure that workers and employers are on an equal footing,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.