New figures from Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) show that national average rents for new tenancies were €1,598 per month last September, up 11% on the previous year.
Existing tenancies rose 5.2% to a national average of €1,357.
But wages for workers are not keep up. Public sector wages, for example, rose by 3.5% in 2023. Workers are paying a huge portion of their wages just to keep a roof over their heads.
Its no wonder young teachers and nurses are emigrating. Over 64,000 people left the country in the year to April 2023. Half were between 25 and 44.
Research in Novembers highlighted a shortfall of 809 primary teachers. Teachers are blaming the housing crisis and the escalating cost of living for a chronic shortfall in staff.
Public Sector Deal Inadequate
The leaders of the ICTU are saying that they have got as much as they can get for public sector workers.
But it still leaves workers out of pocket. In the last three years (2021-2023) inflation went up by 16%.
But it gets worse because of the phasing of payments workers lost out by even more. In fact ICTU says “the cumulative gap between wages and inflation [amounts] to almost 19% over the last three years” (See: https://www.forsa.ie/public-sector-pay-talks-initial-offer/)
Frontline workers were much praised through the pandemic. Now they are struggling with inadequately resourced services and crushing housing costs.
The whole agreement is premised on continued cooperation with “normal ongoing workplace change” including “maximising the benefits” of “Artificial Intelligence and related technologies”. Pay increases are conditional on the delivery on sectoral action plans and compliance with industrial peace provisions in the agreement.
Fight for More
It is quite remarkable that the leaders of ICTU would claim that this is the best they can get when:
1. They have not even balloted for industrial action to put pressure on the government.
2. They have not called even one day of action to push for more.
The contrast with the situation in the North is stark where workers have been mobilised together across the public sector and demonstrated that effective action can put real pressure on the government. Mobilising the members increases the confidence of workers, the strength of the union, and helps recruit young workers.
It’s time for a change of direction here. Our public services cannot recruit staff due to crushing housing costs and the general cost of living. This is leading to increased emigration among young teachers and nurses.
Unions must reject these proposals and demand:
· Pay increase that compensates for lost earnings.
· Above inflation increases.
· An escalator clause to protect workers from any further increases in inflation.
· No additional productivity without further pay increases.