'Assault' on lowest-paid as minimum wage cut takes effect

A coalition of trade unions and community sector organisations marked the cutting of the National Minimum Wage with a protest outside Leinster House today entitled 'Ireland's Day of Shame'. By Alison Spillane

Speaking at the ceremony, hotel worker Bernie Casey described the move as a 'disgrace', and said that taking €40 a week out of the household budget [of tens of thousands of families] was shameful. "What chance have we of living in decency and providing for our families on €7.65 an hour?", she asked.


Ms Casey said that if politicians are allowed to cut to the minimum wage they will also 'attack' the Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) which have come under review as part of the government's National Recovery Plan.

Speakers highlighted the combined assault on workers and the most vulnerable through the form of the minimum wage cut, the introduction of the Universal Social Charge, and reductions in social welfare rates which came into effect in January.

Actor Ger O'Leary (pictured) re-enacted a historic speech given by trade unionist Jim Larkin on O'Connell Street during the 1913 Dublin Lockout. The speech contains the infamous words: "The great are not great. The great only appear great because we are on our knees – let us arise".

Mr O'Leary also read out a 'Roll of Shame' – a list of all the TDs who voted to reduce the minimum wage by €1 to €7.65 per hour (see below).

O'Leary said the government had conspired not only to cut back the wages of the lowest paid of all but they had "betrayed the Irish nation, the Irish people and – most ironic of all – betrayed the founders of Fianna Fáil".

Representatives from the opposition parties were present to commit to both reversing the cut in the minimum wage and protecting the EROs.

Speaking on behalf of the Labour Party, Deputy Emmett Stagg said cutting the minimum wage would bring no gain to the Exchequer. Fine Gael's Brian Hayes added: "We have got to protect the most vulnerable people in our workforce".

Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan also said the cut should be reversed: she said it should never have been contemplated in the first place. Sinn Féin's Aengus O'Snodaigh said: "We have a decision to [either] go back to the past or to build a society based on equality."

All four TDs signed pledge cards to affirm their commitment to reverse the cut. The organisers of today's event will send a pledge card to all candidates standing in general election 2011.


Campaign co-ordinator Ethel Buckley of Siptu said the cut was made all the more shameful by the fact that Brian Cowen and his Fianna Fail parliamentary colleagues were on the same day "running out [of Dáil Eireann] with pensions in excess of €300,000, paid for by the tax-payers, paid for by the low-paid workers that are now being asked to put ther hands in their pockets and bail them out".

Condemning the cut, Social Justice Ireland (SJI) has said "An employee working a 40 hour week will see their gross earnings fall from €346 per week (€17,992 per annum) to €306 per week (€15,912 per annum); a fall of more than €2,000 per annum. They will also see a fall in their take-home pay via the introduction of the Universal Social Charge."

Today's event coincided with the dissolution of the 30th Dáil, Taoiseach Brian Cowen travelled to Arás an Uachtaráin this afternoon to ask President MacAleese to dissolve the Dáil, making way for an election on 25 February.

[Image gallery to follow]


Below is the full list of TDs who voted for the cut in the minimum wage:


  • Ahern, Bertie (FF)
  • Ahern, Dermot (FF)
  • Ahern, Michael (FF)
  • Ahern, Noel (FF)
  • Andrews, Barry (FF)
  • Andrews, Chris (FF)
  • Ardagh, Seán (FF)
  • Aylward, Bobby (FF)
  • Behan, Joe (Ind, formerly FF)
  • Blaney, Niall (FF)
  • Brady, Áine (FF)
  • Brady, Cyprian (FF)
  • Brady, Johnny (FF)
  • Browne, John (FF)
  • Byrne, Thomas (FF)
  • Calleary, Dara (FF)
  • Carey, Pat (FF)
  • Collins, Niall (FF)
  • Conlon, Margaret (FF)
  • Connick, Seán (FF)
  • Coughlan, Mary (FF)
  • Cregan, Johnn (FF)
  • Cuffe, Ciarán (Green)
  • Curran, John (FF)
  • Dempsey, Noel (FF)
  • Devins, Jimmy (FF)
  • Dooley, Timmy (FF)
  • Fahey, Frank (FF)
  • Finneran, Michael (FF)
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael (FF)
  • Fleming, Seán (FF)
  • Gogarty, Paul (Green)
  • Gormley, John (Green)
  • Hanafin, Mary (FF)
  • Harney, Mary (Ind, former PD)
  • Haughey, Seán (FF)
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie (Ind)
  • Hoctor, Máire (FF)
  • Kelleher, Billy (FF)
  • Kelly, Peter (FF)
  • Kenneally, Brendan (FF)
  • Kennedy, Michael (FF)
  • Killeen, Tony (FF)
  • Kitt, Michael (FF)
  • Kitt, Tom (FF)
  • Lenihan, Brian (FF)
  • Lenihan, Conor (FF)
  • Lowry, Michael (Ind)
  • McEllistrim, Thomas (FF)
  • McGrath, Mattie (Ind, formerly FF)
  • McGrath, Michael (FF)
  • McGuinness, John (FF)
  • Moloney, John (FF)
  • Moynihan, Michael (FF)
  • Mulcahy, Michael (FF)
  • Mansergh, Martin (FF)
  • Martin, Micheál (FF)
  • Nolan, M.J (FF)
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon (FF)
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán (FF)
  • O'Brien, Darragh (FF)
  • O'Connor, Charlie (FF)
  • O'Dea, Willie (FF)
  • O'Donoghue, John (FF)
  • O'Flynn, Noel (FF)
  • O'Keeffe, Batt (FF)
  • O'Keeffe, Ned (FF)
  • O'Rourke, Mary (FF)
  • O'Sullivan, Christy (FF)
  • Power, Peter (FF)
  • Power, Seán (FF)
  • Roche, Dick (FF)
  • Ryan, Eamon (Green)
  • Sargent, Trevor (Green)
  • Scanlon, Eamon (FF)
  • Smith, Brendan (FF)
  • Treacy, Noel (FF)
  • Wallace, Mary (FF)
  • White, Mary (Green)
  • Woods, Michael (FF)