Presidents Update August 2016

I hope the season is going really well. Tourist numbers are up and I do hope they are eating out and keeping your establishments busy this summer despite one day of beautiful bliss.

On a slightly different note we have had a really busy month with two major issues dominating our industry. We have met these head on and our voices have certainly been heard regarding our feelings on these issues that affect all our livelihoods. The first issue that we dealt with is another proposed increase in the minimum wage. The RAI and the business community among others have condemned the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation of an increase in the minimum wage. Both myself, and our CEO Adrian Cummins believe there is no justification for any increase in the National Minimum Wage at this time. We have asked for a 5 year freeze. If you listen to the arguments regarding a possible increase they really don’t add up. Restaurants in rural Ireland and the border counties have not yet felt the economic recovery and have been further destabilised by Brexit and currency fluctuations. Yes you will get hit with the argument it’s only 10 cents but if you employ say 25 staff its well over 5k plus per year when you include holiday pay and PRSI. Where do we get this from? Yet we must stay competitive and offer value for money the government say. Well drop USC and give something back to us as employers and revenue generators then we can increase wages. It really does seem to be nothing but increases.

IBEC said the proposed increase would heap additional pressure on “vulnerable sectors already reeling from the sharp drop in the value of sterling”.

Let’s look at the last increase under the last Low Pay Commission proposals where the minimum wage increased by 50 cent from €8.65 to €9.15 and this was only In January gone!! Now in July 2016 the low pay commission want yet another increase. We have to re-iterate to our representatives the snowball effect that these increases have across other staff members and we are still in murky waters with the possible outcomes of Brexit.  Ireland and Britain trade over €1 billion worth of goods and services every week with food exports contributing to this and with currency fluctuations, we will see small companies and artisan suppliers trade to Britain destroyed.

As regards the second issue of chef shortage, the new apprenticeship proposals are a stepping stone in tackling the crisis but the re-establishment of CERT is the only solution.  We state that the main skills shortages are among suitably qualified chefs.  Shortages of commis chefs feed into shortages at higher and specialist levels.  Among the applicants submitted for chef positions, many are deemed not to be appropriately qualified.  This reflects the fact that there is not enough chef training centres.  Currently 1800 chefs qualify each year from certified culinary training programmes. There is an immediate deficit of 5000 chef trainees annually. So therefore the chef shortage in this country is an ongoing problem and needs to be addressed. We were delighted to see our points being brought up in the Dáil, which you can watch here.

Applications for Foodie Destinations 2016 are starting to come in. Get your community together and make sure to apply at http://foodiedestinations.ie/

I do hope the summer was good we will have to see what the winter brings don’t forget to talk to your local politician regarding any issues you may have.

 

Slan go fóill

President

Anthony Gray