€3.1 million in unpaid wages 'just the tip of the iceberg' says Patricia King, ICTU General Secretary

26 Apr 2019

Unpaid Wages

€3.1 million in unpaid wages “just the tip of the iceberg” says Patricia King, ICTU General Secretary 

 

Responding to the publication of the fourth Annual Report of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Patricia King said: “The €3.1m in unpaid wages recovered by inspectors last year represents just the tip of the iceberg”.

In 2018, 5,753 workplaces were inspected, covering 133,462 workers. This is a year-on-year increase in inspections of 20 per cent and 35 per cent increase in workers covered. The €3.1m recouped in unpaid wages is 75 per cent more than in 2017, up from €1.77m, and twice that recovered in 2016.

Ms King said: “The significant increase in the amount of unpaid wages recovered as a result of a modest increase in the number of workplace inspections last year unequivocally demonstrates the case for additional resources to be urgently made available to WRC inspection and enforcement service.”  

“As the economy and numbers at work continue to grow, rogue employers need to be left in no doubt that the odds of them receiving a knock on the door from a compliance inspector are too great to risk underpaying their staff or breaching employment rights. This is far from the current situation.”

Almost half of all employers inspected (45 per cent) were found to be in breach of employment legislation. The sectors with the highest breach rates (60+ per cent) included fisheries, food and drink, hair and beauty, transport, wholesale and retail.

Ms King added: “Sectors with the highest incidents of breaches of employment rights are the largest employers of some of our most vulnerable workers. As a society, we need to send a clear message that such mistreatment of workers by bosses is unacceptable in this day and age, and the pushback must begin with a ramping up of inspections”.

She added: “Worryingly in 2018 the sector with the highest breach rate was the equine sector at 84 per cent. In December of that same year, Minister Doherty signed new regulations that allow employers in the horse racing industry derogations from some working time rules. The WRC Report should give cause for reflection on the wisdom of this decision.”

 

ENDS

For more information:

Conor Kavanagh, Communications Officer

01 8897745 / +353 86 8116607