Wage rates must be held in the battle for competitiveness.
Strange bedfellows as AIB and SIPTU demand bonuses and wage increases.
Jobs growth must take priority over unviable wage increases.
ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, welcomed the fact that today's CSO Live Register figures show that unemployment has decreased slightly in January. However, unemployment levels continue to be unsustainably high and the Association warned that recent calls for pay increases by various Unions and bankers are premature in the extreme and damaging to economic progress.
The latest seasonally adjusted Live Register figures confirm the 400,700 people are signing on the dole, a reduction of 2,300 in the month. Long-term claimants still account for 45.5% of the total. The standardised unemployment rate now stands at 12.3%.
Mark Fielding, ISME CEO, commented on the figures, ''Today's figures show fragile signs that the economy is recovering slowly, however with 400,700 people still drawing the dole, there is still a long way to go. The emphasis must remain on getting people back to work rather than madcap demands for wage increases from the strangest of bedfellows, bankers and trade unions. It was refreshing to hear the Minister for Finance slap down the AIB request; is there another minister who will do the same with SIPTU?''
The welfare system is overburdened, the country continues to borrow €1 billion every month and getting people back to work must be a priority for both Government and Industry. Ireland is still a high cost location and many SMEs are still crippled by increasing business costs and reduced domestic demand. To even mention wage increases less than two months after the departure of the Troika shows, at best an ignorance of real economics and at worst a selfish 'me-féin' attitude last seen in the 'bubble' years.''
The Association called on the Government to:
Focus on cost-competitiveness related to our international competitors.
A total overhaul the social welfare system to make it worthwhile for people to work.
Increase job-rich infrastructure investment.
Attack the scourge of ever-increasing black-market activity.
Address the lack of bank credit for productive SMEs.
''SME business owners understand that continued prudence and caution is required in order to ensure stability and to improve our competitiveness. Trade Unions must not create unrealistic expectations and bankers must not revert to avarice and greed. The emphasis must be on increased productivity leading to increased jobs, rather than wage increases,'' concluded Fielding.