In each department the line minister is the ultimate decider of policy. The Duffy/Walsh report into pay rates was ordered by the outgoing Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe. The report was agreed as part of EU/IMF/ECB bail out. For weeks there have been suggestions in the media and business circles that the report would roll back the regulation of pay in sectors such as hospitality, restaurants, etc. paving the way for lots of extra jobs. At least that what IBEC would have us believe. Their idea was to cut premium payment for Sunday work and streamline other allowances and rates dividing greater Dublin from the rest of the country, making it easier to take on extra workers at a lower rate. What you might ask about the consumer? Was there not a suggestion that charges could drop in these sector as dramatically as proposed? The straight answer was; No!
The reality for many trying to get to work on a Sunday is that public transport is non existent in rural areas on a Sunday morning, child minding impossible. Many people still regard Sunday as a day of observance or a family day. There is a need to cover these expenses on the part of the employer. Is it likely that the Minister comes into work on a Sunday in his office with or without any allowance using public transport?
It must have come as a huge disappointment to the suits when the Duffy Walsh Report made no such recommendations for sweeping change. Indeed the report highlighted the importance of having agreement in the sector about how wages could be decided to avoid having differentials between businesses. However Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has indicated his own view that JLC rates should be cut any way. It is merely his own view and not a Labour view and not the National Government. This time last year Richard called the Fine Gael leadership wrong. He was out of step with his own party and was dismissed as a man who eats his dinner in the evening, presumably in one of the restaurants he now wants to see pay their workers less. What is more interesting is that few FG back benchers have supported his call for pat cuts for those on low pay.
In this rush of blood to throw out the Duffy Walsh report one wonders who would bother preparing a report for his department in the future? If the detailed work is going to be summarily dismissed because the minister has decided otherwise? I don’t believe for a minute that the minister will get the changes he wants, it’ll never come to that. However the difference between Labour and Fine Gael or more correctly Richard Bruton should be dealt with before the matter is publicly aired. That’s what programme managers used to do. As I’ve blogged before we do need them badly to get agreement on how issues should be addressed. I’ve always regarded John Bruton as antagonistic minister to Labour but an outstanding Taoiseach. Perhaps Richard should have a word with his brother before he changes low pay into no pay?