Around 500 delegates from Ireland's largest trade union SIPTU are meeting in Dublin to decide whether to enter talks on a new national wage agreement. They will set out an agenda for the negotiations, including pay increases well ahead of inflation, along with legislation on agency workers and union recognition.
SIPTU delegates representing over 200,000 members are expected to support entering the next pay talks. They want concrete measures to prevent exploitation of agency workers, which they blame for the so-called 'race to the bottom' in employment standards.
The delegates also want action on union recognition rights. However, for most delegates the priority is pay. Towards 2016 promised increases worth 10% over 27 months, but inflation has meanwhile eroded most if not all of that.
Workers' fears will be fuelled by a report published today by the UNITE trade union. It claims Irish private sector wages are now 25% below average wages for the top ten EU member states. Like SIPTU, it wants pay increases substantially ahead of inflation, just as employers complain they are facing a global downturn.