By Laura Fitzgerald
EVERYONE KNOWS the minimum wage is paltry and it’s not enough to live on. Many young people up to the age of 20 have an even lower minimum wage, as miserable as €6.06 per hour for some. Yet each time we hear the oft-repeated mantra of “We must regain competitiveness” from the spokespersons for big and small businesses and right-wing politicians it is now increasingly accompanied by calls for the lowering of the minimum wage.
The Quick Food Service Alliance which includes McDonalds, Burger King, Subway and Abrakebabra, have had the gall to launch a legal challenge to the minimum wage and to the compulsion to pay over-time rates on a Sunday!
McDonalds is hardly the picture of a poor unfortunate company that’s struggling due to the global recession. It’s a ruthless multinational corporation that makes its billions in mega-profits via super-exploitation and half-poisoning people with its fatty foods!
It’s the perfect example of why, not only should we fight to defend any basic rights and wages that already exist, but we should fight for better wages. A campaign that unionised and mobilised thousands of young workers in the fast food industry in New Zealand a number of years ago secured better wages and is an example for us here.
The Minister for Labour Affairs, Billy Kelleher has said the “minimum wage could become a barrier to employment and any review of it must be ‘realistic’”. What Billy Kelleher means is the minimum wage should be cut!
The recent halving of the dole for under 20 year olds is part of this plan. By ensuring that young people cannot receive the full €204 per week on social welfare, the government is creating a young army of potential recruits for extremely low-paid work that many young people will have no choice but to avail of.
The National Employment Rights Agency who “police” the minimum wage reported for 2008 96% increase in the number of cases of people not being paid the proper minimum wage.
The agenda of business and the government is clear to use the recession and mass unemployment to drive down the wages of all workers and in particular young people in order to increase profits.
Socialist Youth will be launching a campaign over the course of the summer to fight this exploitation – get in touch with us today and begin to stand up for the right to decent pay and a future!