The Tasc 'think tank' has rejected arguments by the Restaurants Association of Ireland in support of cutting the minimum wage in the restaurants sector.
The agency, which promotes economic equality, says the abolition of wage agreements for restaurant workers will heighten inequality and depress consumer demand. Removing the pay scales would mean 'a reduction of just 61 cent per customer for a meal costing €60 for two', it claims.
The exchequer would lose about €1,143 for every full-time general worker whose wage was reduced to the statutory minimum said Sinéad Pentony, Tasc’s head of policy. 'An across-the-board 8 per cent cut in wages in the hospitality sector will cut consumer spending by approximately €170 million', she told the 'Irish Times'.
As an alternative to lower wages, Tasc recommends a temporary reduction in VAT and excise taxes for restaurants. The report also suggests the Government could issue 'time-limited consumer vouchers to all adults to be redeemed at restaurants'.
'A Square Deal? The Real Cost of Making a Meal in the Restaurant Sector' tests the analysis earlier this year from the Restaurant Association of Ireland, seeking a reduction in the Joint Labour Committee pay scale which offers a premium to the sector for the unsocial hours worked.
Tasc says 'hotel and restaurant workers are the lowest paid of any sector'. The latest CSO data shows the 'average weekly pay in this sector was €351, or just half of the national average of €698', the document says.
Tasc says it will propose to the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise it launch an investigation into why Ireland has high food, alcohol and beverage costs.