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Joy and dismay follows ruling on setting pay for low-wage restaurant workers

Food industry groups have welcome the ruling which deems Joint Labour Committees rules on wages to be unconstitutional. They say it will lead to job creation.

A group of fast food restaurants had taken the challenge to the High Court
A group of fast food restaurants had taken the challenge to the High Court

THE JOINT LABOUR Committee system of setting the rates of pay for low-wage workers has been ruled to be unconstitutional at the High Court today.

A group of fast-food restaurants had taken the challenge, arguing that JLCs had been given the power to make laws for certain industries, when this should be reserved for the Dáil and the Seanad, reports 98FM. JLCs allowed wages to be set above the minimum level.

SIPTU Vice President Patricia King has told RTÉ that this is “devastating news” for low paid workers and employers are now free to “plunder their wage packets”.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland meanwhile has welcomed the ruling, and has reiterated its call for JLCs to be abolished, calling them a barrier to employment. It’s calling on jobs minister Richard Bruton to “let people start employing people without JLC barriers”.

John Grace, chairman of The Quick Service Food Alliance which had taken the case, said:

There is already a national minimum wage and there are 25 other pieces of legislation protecting employee’s rights. The JLCs were totally arbitrary, unfair and are now unconstitutional.

Grace said that this ruling would allow businesses to take on new staff and pave the way for more stable employment.

Today’s ruling will have implications for the government’s attempts to reform systems for setting wages. Proposals to cut overtime pay rates for 200,000 low paid workers have already caused problems between the coalition partners.

In March the Irish Restaurant and Catering Workers Forum carried out a ‘t-shirt protest’ at the Irish Restaurant Awards, calling for a stop to the Restaurant’s Association of Ireland’s “attack on workers’ minimum wages and conditions:

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Emer McLysaght

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