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Restaurant Workers Action Group protest at Supermac's Eyre Square Galway
Trade Union TV presents the Restaurant Workers Action Group protest at Supermac's Eyre Square Galway to defend restaurant workers minimum wages (16/04/2010)
Start you week with a little bit of resistance!
People from a broad spectrum of Galway's activist community came out to support the restaurant workers' action. Mandate, Siptu, Unite, Sinn Féin, SWP, Labour amongst a host of organisations and many in none, showed their solidarity with low paid restaurant workers and migrant workers.
The Restaurant Workers Action Group, established by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), staged a protest Friday 16th of April at the flagship Supermacs restaurant in Galway. Supermacs is part of the Quick Service Food Alliance, an industry group mounting a legal challenge to the JLC (Joint Labour Committee) system which sets wages for the restaurant industry.
Supermacs is a leading force in challenging wage protections for its workers, even though it saw its pre-tax profits quadruple last year.
Restaurant industry groups are seeking to dismantle wage protections for the lowest paid, calling for a €1 reduction in the national minimum wage; a weakening of the standards laid out in the JLC; and a challenge to the right of the JLC to determine working conditions. Just this week, the Restaurant Association of Ireland renewed its calls to cut the national minimum wage and called for the abolition of the JLC.
According to Siobhán ODonoghue, Director of the MRCI, The restaurant industry is driving an attack on minimum wage rates and basic protections for workers. This is not about saving jobs - companies like Supermacs have actually seen their profits increase dramatically, while lower-wage workers are struggling to survive. The industrys attack on wages for the poorest workers is shameful. Now, more than ever, we must ensure protections remain in place for those who need them most.
The MRCI has assisted hundreds of migrant workers over the years who report exploitation and unfair treatment in restaurants. The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) reports that an overwhelming 79% of all catering establishments inspected in 2009 were found to be out of compliance with laws governing minimum rates of pay, payment of wages, and related employment protections.
Oktay Gencoglu, a restaurant worker in Naas originally from Turkey, says, Restaurant workers are already suffering to support our families. Our hours have been cut and many of us have seen our wages cut too. Any more cuts would be disastrous for us. We are counting on the government to strengthen the JLC system and defend our wages.
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland is a national organisation working to promote justice, empowerment and equality for migrant workers and their families. The Restaurant Workers Action Group works to improve conditions for restaurant workers across the country.
If you've been inspired by this protest checkout www.mrci.ie
Caption: Restaurant workers stand up to Supermac