Press Release

Congress General Secretary condemns ‘cheap attacks’ on working people

Date Released: 15 February 2013

Congress General Secretary David Begg has condemned the ‘cheap attacks’ on working people which he said had become a hallmark of the current crisis, in Ireland and across the European Union.

Begg said the failure to fashion a just resolution to the banking and budgetary crisis meant that the burden of adjustment had fallen almost entirely on low to middle–income earners, in both private and public sectors.

Speaking at the Inaugural Edward Phelan Lecture in Dublin on Thursday, 14th February, Begg said: “We failed – at a national and European level – to fashion a just response to this crisis. As a society we also failed to have a clear and reasoned debate on where the burden of adjustment should fall, with the result that cheap attacks on working people have become the norm: attacks on their incomes and living standards, be they in the public or private sector.

“We have seen attacks on the Minimum Wage and on the systems that set rates for the low paid in the private sector, allied with attacks on the income and conditions of public sector workers made by people who should know better,” Begg said, in a reference to recent remarks from IBEC’s Brendan McGinty on public sector pay.

“And then some commentators wonder why over 100,000 took to the streets last Saturday? Tolerance has it limits and we are at the outer reaches now,” Mr Begg said.

The Inaugural Edward Phelan Lecture is organised to commemorate Irishman Edward Phelan, who served with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and became the organisation’s first Director General in 1946.

The keynote address was delivered by Guy Ryder, current head of the ILO. 


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