Ireland’s largest public sector union is seeking a government commitment to improve social wages.
nd Fórsa said it would seek a substantial increase in wages to relieve workers from rising inflation.
Fórsa – which has 80,000 members – says Ireland is now at a crossroads of social participation, with rising inflation putting tremendous pressure on workers’ living standards.
Force Secretary-General Kevin Kalinan says Ireland should prevent a return to “poor quality” social conversations that preceded the Covid-19 epidemic, at a time when more intense engagement is taking shape and job security protocols and emergency income support are being provided.
Mr Kalinan called for increased dialogue to improve Ireland’s “social wages”, welfare and public spending on public services.
He also called for raising the national minimum wage to higher living wage rates.
With over 80,000 members, Fórsa is the second largest union in Ireland after SIPTU.
It is the largest public sector union.
Rising costs of wage and livelihood crises dominated Forsa’s first in-person conference in three years, with more than 700 delegates attending the three-day event in Killarney.
The pace of today’s conference program is influenced by wage and inflation issues.
“We are at a crossroads. Maintaining the quality of life requires multiple round tables for the crisis of life, ”Mr Kalinan warned at the conference.
“The World Bank’s forecast that energy and commodity prices will remain ‘historically high’ by 2024 will be measured by the outcome, not by the number of meetings scheduled for the Irish Social Dialogue.”
“Workers across the continent are paying more for heating, fuel and groceries. But in Germany, Denmark, Sweden and other rich European Union countries, workers do not have to worry about childcare costs or unavoidable visits to the GP or A&E, fees or even rent for adult care – because these things are free or a social service provided by the public service. Is affordable through wages.
British officials have acknowledged that inflation could rise above 10 per cent by the end of this year – the highest rate in almost half a century.
Mr Kalinan warned that the lack of a decent social wage emphasized wages as a way to maintain a standard of living.
He tabled a proposal from the union’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to “restore and improve living standards over all other issues in the current round of wage negotiations in the public sector and elsewhere.”
A proposal by a Forsa branch calling for a 30 percent pay rise in the first year of a new national pay agreement was withdrawn by the conference without a vote.
Mr Kalinan promised that Forsa would follow the workers’ livelihood issues with “determination”.
He acknowledged that he did not underestimate the scale of the challenge before discussing the upcoming public sector payrolls.
“Workers, their families and their communities are the victims of inflation, not the cause of inflation. I’ve made it clear that tariffs need to improve this year. ”
Mr Kalinan acknowledged that the government had set up a social dialogue unit within the Taoistech ministry and that the Labor Party
The Employers’ Economic Forum – the country’s main forum for high-level social dialogue – has been upgraded with Taoisach himself presiding over each of the quarterly plenary sessions.
“I have long called for swift and meaningful action on social wages, which measures how well you are doing because the government is spending on welfare and public services. This is much lower in Ireland than in other modern European countries. ”
“One of the reasons is the relatively low PRSI rate of the employer. But it is also due to the long-term failure to provide adequate public services.
Sometimes ideologies get in the way, such as free-market child care, private care for the elderly, or two-tier healthcare. ”
“It simply came to our notice then. But now is the time to start the process of transformational change. But we must start working with urgency and rigor and achieve the initial and real results, because Ireland’s low national wages are a direct contributor to today’s crisis of life. ”
Mr Kalinan warned the government not to underestimate the feelings of the trade union movement about the current crisis.
“Let’s be very clear – if this opportunity is denied or wasted, then the responsibility for degrading the standard of living will fall on this government.”
Mr Kalinan called for strong collective bargaining power to improve wages and productivity and for better social and economic results.
“Ireland has not been able to keep up with the European level of collective bargaining and the balance between capital and labor has changed dramatically in the last 40 years.
“Globalization has confirmed that the share of wealth among the elite has reached an obscene level – often beyond normal comprehension. The only way to stop and reverse this is to create a workforce.