Thousands of workers in the Irish grocery sector are in line for a 6% pay rise over the next 18 months under the terms of a new national wage agreement.
The agreement, which was worked out between union and employer teams in week-long negotiations, provides for a general increase of 5.5% for the Republic’s 520,000 workers over the same period.
But for those earning less than 19 an hour - which is 12 above the minimum wage - there is to be an extra 0.5% rise.
According to Mandate, the shopworkers’ union, up to half of the 20,000 staff employed by Tesco and Dunnes, the big two grocery operators in the Irish market, will qualify for the 6% increase, as well as thousands of others who are working elsewhere in the sector.
“Overall, it will mean a pay rise of around 118 a week,” said the union’s incoming general secretary, John Douglas.
He added: “However, under the agreement, the increase is being spread over three six-month periods.”
At the beginning of the negotiations, Douglas had tabled a demand for a flat-rate increase of 120 a week, arguing that low-paid workers in the retail sector had lost out in previous national wage deals.
But the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation rejected the claim, as well as calls for an improvement in the current minimum wage.
However, in the final deal, the employers have made concessions on both points.
Douglas feels that the extra 0.5% increase for the low paid, while modest, creates a precedent that can be built on in future agreements between the union and employers.
Meanwhile, as part of the pay deal, the Irish Labour Court is to review the current minimum wage rate of 17 an hour, with any recommended increase taking effect from next May.