The hotel industry offers huge potential for creating employment if it is allowed a sustainable cost structure, according to the chairman of the Galway branch of the Irish Hotels Federation. Paul Gill has called on local TDs to support the abolition of the Joint Labour Committee system, stating that their additional layer is incompatible with jobs growth when allied to our minimum wage, currently the third highest in Europe.
He argues that JLCs put hotels and guesthouses in Galway and across Ireland at a serious competitive disadvantage compared to our biggest competitors such as Northern Ireland and Britain, where a minimum wage of €6.87 (£5.95 ) is in place. Minimum JLC rates for Irish hotels are 32–49 per cent higher at €9.09–10.26, resulting in overall payroll costs that are 42 per cent of turnover in Irish hotels, compared with 31 per centin Britain.
Mr Gill says its abolition will increase tourism and help hotels and guesthouses to safeguard existing jobs, as well as creating new employment. For many restaurants, he believes, the additional burden of JLCs and premium rates are a major disincentive to hiring new staff members. He also says the removal of the Sunday premiums would allow hotels to add extra services to customers which will result in more people holidaying in Ireland:
“It will provide greater cost competitiveness, allowing hotels to provide a more attractive product for overseas visitors while encouraging Irish people to holiday at home – which will result in increased spending throughout the economy.”
“The economic arguments put forward by the authors fly in the face of the realities encountered by businesses working at the coal face of Galway's hospitality sector. To maintain that there is no link between removing JLCs and generating employment growth is an utter nonsense. This argument is based on a remarkable lack of understanding of how businesses in Ireland’s hospitality sector function on the ground and the factors which contribute to employment within the industry.
“Nationally, Irish tourism can create a further 20,000 jobs by 2015 if cost inputs within the economy are controlled and a continued programme to improve Ireland’s image abroad is implemented. This represents a significant opportunity for job creation in Galway.”
However, Labour TD Derek Nolan has hit out at IBEC’s proposals to dissolve the system, believing it would cause anxiety for low paid workers and further lower the wage agenda.
“The JLC system was put in place to protect workers and it is madness to suggest that it should be scrapped. IBEC’s position on this issue and its previous call for the minimum wage cut not to be reversed shows that the organisation has no concern for the lives of hard-pressed workers.
"This is a trying time for the State, with families and workers struggling to keep their heads above water. It is clear that a sense of decency and respect for work is absent from IBEC's considerations."