Sunday Brody Sunday – O’Briens don’t want to pay double time

O’Briens press released today about them not wanting to pay double time for people that work on a Sunday. Naturally they threatened 60 jobs would be lost. In fairness lads.

A Partridge on London - Time Out
Photo owned by Annie Mole (cc)

Brody Sweeney (not pictured) stated in the press release:

“This Sunday ‘double time / time and a third’ comes from a period in Ireland where there was no Sunday trading to speak of, and where many employers used Dickensian tactics with their employees. In modern Ireland, Sunday trading is a fact of life; most employers offer Sunday hours on a purely voluntary basis, and of course we have no ability to charge extra to our customers, to reflect the increased cost” he said.

Currently 75% of O’Briens’ 126 stores on the Island of Ireland are open on Sundays. They anticipate that, if NERA continues to enforce these regulations, at least 60 job losses will needlessly have to be made

47 Responses to “Sunday Brody Sunday – O’Briens don’t want to pay double time”

  1. Gary Pigott says:

    This from a chain who charge an extra quid for eating a sandwich in the shop rather than take it away…… Sunday trading may be a fact of life but Sunday has always been a day for sleeping off the hangovers, visiting family, big roast dinners and long lazy afternoons. I’d want some extra compensation to give all that up.

  2. Sunday trading may be a de facto practice for some businesses but it is by no means a right to force employees to give up their weekend for no return. While my view of Sunday trading is that Sunday is a day like any other, I represent my own opinions and not that of a country that has still both religious and personal reasons for keeping the weekend, especially Sunday, as a work free time. I don’t see how no overheads, light, heat, staff expenses, etc add up to 60 job losses considering only 75% of stores open on a Sunday. Is business really that profitable for 8 hours on a Sunday that it can sustain 60 jobs on its own?

  3. Neil says:

    He’s such an idiot. I have to say, I’ve always disliked Sunday trading generally – why can’t we take one day a week off so everyone can have a relaxing Sunday.

    Of course, I rarely hold that opinion when I want to go shopping on a Sunday!

  4. JL Pagano says:

    Unions are meant to be a fact of life too maybe he’d let his employees join one so the negotiations can be carried out properly.

  5. Georgie says:

    The NERA is a joke, if a company pays standard on Sundays and a person wants to work the Sunday, let them work. If they don’t want to work they can say No. Another government bureaucracy getting in the way of a market.

  6. Des says:

    If O’Brien’s want to pay flat rates then they should be careful that their suppliers don’t adopt a similar attitude and remove off-peak discounts or whatever.

  7. Steph says:

    There’s more of the same going on in various parts of the country, my hometown in Clare is an example. I know of employers who never have and never will pay double or time and a half for Sundays/Bank Holidays. I know of people being paid less than the minimum wage. I know of others battling for almost a year’s holiday pay in lieu of annual leave not taken coz they couldn’t take the days off due to staff shortages. In my experience (& sadly), there’s plenty of Irish employers out there who have zero regard for employment rights in Ireland regardless of race, religion or where you’re from & I can’t see it improving with the way things are going.

  8. I’ll take Brody’s side on this one to a certain extent. I don’t know what the figures are of young Irish people attending mass but I am sure they are on the decline so to use a holy day as an excuse for extra pay is not right. With jobless figures going over 250k today in Ireland people will be happy of any job soon and market conditions will always determine what people are paid. Having said that sending out a press release with the intention of bullying people is not one of the smartest things Brody has ever done.

  9. Deborah says:

    Double time on Sundays? Himself is a manager at a German retailer and he always works Sundays. He often works 80 hour weeks, is called out in the middle of the night for “alarm” calls and all he ever gets for working a bank holiday or working over 45 hours a week is lieu time. It may be a good salary, but they expect your soul in return and there’s no chance of advancement. So double time on Sundays? Wow. I’d settle for overtime.

  10. Rob says:

    I’ve worked Sundays for the last 5 years, without double or time and a half. I know in my job that if I looked for it, it’d probably not be worth opening on a Sunday. So that means I lose the hours, I have to make up for them sometime in the week to stay afloat, during one of the days I’m in college. thus making my days even feckin longer, so screw that. I choose to work Sunday, it’s not in my contract, but I need the cash.

    I also know some of the girls in the nearby O’Briens, they’re weekend workers, mostly students. With the way the country has gone to crap, and people spending less in Sandwich shops, O’Briens won’t bother opening on a Sunday. I can’t exactly see where they’re getting 60 jobs out of it, you’d have to lose 1 and a half employees per store, but I can see people quitting if they’re only getting 8 hrs for the weekend! If you were to lose one worker in every

    Again if you’re forced to work Sunday, as in it’s your job spec, then fine, double time it is, it’s not part of the normal working week, neither is Saturday if you really want to argue it. If you’re religious or it’s just you day to rest, it’s being taken from you, so you need to be compensated.
    But, I could argue the same point for Fridays, my day of rest 😛

  11. Danny says:

    Any attempt to emulate Ryanair Blackmail tactics. I support Ryanair not the evil overpriced sandwich shop.

  12. Gary Pigott says:

    It is a Ryanair tactic, but Michael O’Leary charges less for a sandwich & coffee at 30,000 ft than O’Briens charge on the ground. Ryanair charge me €10 to fly to Paris so I can understand that costs are cut to the bone and any increases must be resisted. O’Briens are at the premium end of the market, so they should be able to eat a pay raise for their staff rather than threatening staff reductions.

  13. Tom Young says:

    Who cares?

  14. emordino says:

    Gary, in fairness, the rent at 30,000 feet is quite a bit lower than it is at ground level. It’s a bit of a silly comparison.

    I don’t know about the overheads in O’Briens so I don’t know how they’ll deal with this, but a friend of mine who runs a pub outside of any main population centres is already barely breaking even on Sundays. There’s no way he’ll be able to keep going.

  15. Gary Pigott says:

    The typical rent on an O’Briens-type operation outside Dublin city centre is about €3k a month. It costs about €3k an *hour* to operate a short-haul Boeing 737. I don’t think it’s a silly comparison at all.

  16. emordino says:

    My original comment was poorly phrased, so put it this way: two businesses like O’Briens and Ryanair are so far apart in terms of where their overheads come from and what elements of their service they concentrate on monetising that it doesn’t make sense to compare even the similar aspects of their service.

    … which, I’ve just noticed, is essentially irrelevant to the point you were making. This is why I should never comment before 10am.

  17. As the spouse of an O’Briens franchisee a few points:

    The press release is not as clear as it might be and does not tell the whole story.

    Under the JLCs (Joint Labour Committees) being randomly enforced by NERA at the moment and to which Brody Sweeney was referring, staff must be paid double for Sundays if outside Dublin. Within Dublin the rate is just 33% extra! No explanation is given for this inequity!

    The JLC was not properly representative of the catering sector and did not have a mandate to agree to such an unsustainable pay structure. Operators don’t know who ‘represented’ them!

    No notifications were sent to individual operators in the sector and yet the conditions are being applied retrospectively from 1st March 2007 and in some cases earlier and in some later! There is no consistency except in so far as they are utterly inconsistent! The inspectors themselves admit that they just ‘drive around looking for restaurants’! My wife, like most operators in the sectors only became aware of the JLC when NERA started its visits relatively recently. It seems fundamentally unjust that such a policy should apply retrospectively to a period before the employer was aware of its existence and had been faithfully applying existing labour law to the letter ! However even had she known, its conditions make sustainability impossible in this sector! This is not a case of reduced profits – this is a case of operating at a loss! Jobs will be lost!

    In some cases the arrears being levied are approaching 6 figures! This will close businesses and put people on the dole!

    Not all franchisees can close on a Sunday as they are bound by lease in many cases to open 7 days.

    This Sunday premium is an anachronism in a culture where increasingly Sunday is not the almost universal ‘Day of Rest’/Sabbath. One might even suggest that in a country where religious and ethnic diversity is growing that to single out the Christian Sabbath as a day warranting such special treatment is in-fact discriminatory! I say this as a Church of Ireland priest!

    NERA are not attempting to visit all outlets but just a random sample and it is only these samples that are being audited and served with enforcement notices. This is creating huge inequity within the sector.

    At a time when costs are rising and businesses are operating on smaller margins this JLC is not in the national interest as it will create further unemployment and force employers into the ‘Black Economy’ . In the current economic climate these enforcements will be last nail in the coffin for an already struggling sector where turnover has fallen substantially in the last year. The sums don’t add up! BTW for your information you can multiply the monthly rent by a factor of 4 from that outlined above by Gary! And as for the eat in charge – That is VAT, not applied to take-away! Check your facts before you blow hot air!

    Most employees are not looking for the Sunday premium. Most are happy to have a job and to enjoy the flexibility that is possible within a reasonable pay structure. The JLCs may provide short term gain for the employee but that will be cold comfort when their jobs are gone!

    Until I was married to someone in business I too believed the myth that all business people were wealthy Scrooges – The truth is very far removed – there are a lot of sleepless nights involved and while in the long term there may be reward their is huge risk and insecurity which is not shared by those who have a steady income. To compare an O’Briens franchisee to Michael O’Leary is lazy thinking and smacks of the begrudgery that we Irish are famous for!

    Damien I am surprised at you indulging in such populist begrudgery!

  18. Damien says:

    Passive-aggressiveness is not a very Christian thing to indulge in either Stephen

  19. Damien – You’ve lost me – elaborate please – I am just trying to put the other side of a very one sided argument – I am annoyed but not aggressive and I never claimed to be passive? 🙂

  20. To clarify – It was a poorly constructed press release and I can see why you would hop on it but the estimate of job losses is conservative in the extreme! My wife alone employs 20!

  21. Suzy Byrne says:

    I’m confused

    Are Sweeney et al saying that O’Briens Staff should not be seen as being in the catering sector?

    Or that Mr. Sweeney and his franchisees have been caught by the government’s employment rights enforcement agency not paying their staff properly?

    Or both?

    I do think that staff who work Sunday’s should be paid extra whether they or the rest of us go to church or not – it’s a day of rest for many – the majority of the population work Monday to Friday – if you are required to work on Sunday to provide shopping/eating or other service cover for the rest of us then I think you should get paid more for doing so.

    Nurses, Gardai and many other professions get paid extra for working that day – I don’t believe the person who might make my sandwich should be treated less favourably for working on that day. And that’s what the press release etc seems to indicate they want to happen.

  22. Suzy – No but consistency would help

    As for paying properly – to pay at this level means operating at a loss – do you really think that is sustainable?

    Are you prepared then to pay a Sunday premium to eat on a Sunday? Why should the employer subsidise your desire to eat out on a Sunday?

    The professionals you list are public servants and as in most matters controlled by government there is minimal common sense!

  23. Suzy Byrne says:

    There are not only public servants on premium pay for Sunday working- they include people working in the private sector in care/security/media/IT/finance etc.

    It’s a decision of the employer/business owner if they open or not on Sunday – nobody is forcing them to! Maybe if they charge a Sunday rate they’ll soon find out if people want to pay to eat there or not! However I’m not asking for a subsidy I’m paying for a meal and will choose if I can afford it or not or if I like the food or not – I assume all the other food retailers who have to pay these rates incorporate the costs into the menu/business over 7 days?

  24. Suzy – Did you read my posting – Franchisees are often contractually bound by landlords, shopping centres etc to open on a Sunday and will have agreed this before the current change in the law! They are therefore forced now to operate at a loss and to pay retrospective payments (backdated to dates before notification!) which will in many cases close them and kill jobs. Current estimates are that 2% were paying the double time premium. Now with the random NERA hits only restaurants visited are levied!
    Whatever about the law going forward it seems patently unjust to have such a random enforcement! Also why should someone outside Dublin get double pay while someone in Dublin is only entitled to One and a third time?

  25. Des says:

    So.. firms were happily operating in ignorance of the law.

    The law is now being enforced so maybe their gripe should be with their legal advisers ?

    Then the debate is subjected to the Irish version of Godwinisation – accusations fly of begrudgery.

    I love how in our glorious capitalist society firms cry foul and threaten to thrw their toys out of the pram if the law is applied to them. I also love how they come running to Government for a bailout but that’s a different days story.

  26. Gary Pigott says:

    PaddyAnglican: Hang on a second here. You’re mixing up a lack of consistency with random sample based enforcement. I can agree that the sector should have been correctly notified of the new rules when they came out. That is unforgivable and is a possible defense if one of these cases ever goes to court, but…

    The rule is totally consistent. *Every* establishment is required to pay double time on a Sunday, not just the ones that they catch. That’s like saying that it’s unfair for me to have to tax and insure my car just because I get stopped at a checkpoint and Dodgy Dave down the road doesn’t.

    If you’re tied into a 7 day opening clause in your lease then you have a problem, but everything is negotiable, especially in this day and age when the landlord’s only alternative is an empty unit.

  27. “It seems fundamentally unjust that such a policy should apply retrospectively to a period before the employer was aware of its existence and had been faithfully applying existing labour law to the letter ! However even had she known, its conditions make sustainability impossible in this sector! This is not a case of reduced profits – this is a case of operating at a loss! Jobs will be lost!”

    Hold on a second now. If you are referring to extra pay on a Sunday then I would really have to question how somebody could have been oblivious to this. It has been a massive deal in the media, public word of mouth and other sources for over a decade, quite possibly long before certain sandwich franchises even started to take off. If it’s a case of operating at a loss by adhering to the rules then somebody really has to be blunt and point out that somebody didn’t do their maths before entering into business. I don’t buy the religious argument for Sundays etc, it’s just another day in my mind as I said above but rules to apply and do exist and that’s more of a fact of life than Sunday trading.

    “In some cases the arrears being levied are approaching 6 figures! This will close businesses and put people on the dole!”

    6 figure arrears? WTF? And not paying double time on a Sunday is going to recoup this. Exactly how many staff work, on a Sunday, to recoup that kind of money? To be honest I think that ridiculous overheads from shopping centres in terms of massive unsustainable rents are more likely to be the crippling factor here and not an extra 40 hours, low wage pay on a Sunday.

    “Not all franchisees can close on a Sunday as they are bound by lease in many cases to open 7 days.”

    Again, did nobody review and inspect the business plan before starting out? If the lease bound them to open 7 days, and seemingly the math of 7 day opening is resulting in 6 figure arrears… Well, seriously now, I have sympathy for anyone in a bit of a predicament after trying to make a business for themselves but in terms of simple math preventing hardship and debt where was the cop-on?

    “As for paying properly – to pay at this level means operating at a loss – do you really think that is sustainable?”

    Again, as above, those were the rules before a single penny was spent on the business and if operating at a loss was the prediction then as it is now, why did anyone start trading to get into debt?

  28. Listen we could argue all day about this but what really matters at the end of the day is that more people will be out of work, both employers and employees – But sure what the hell – NERA and the Unions will have the comfort of knowing that they screwed the evil business owners. The fact that they will also put swathes of workers on the dole is incidental as long as they get one over on the business sector – This is adversarial labour relations at its worst and nobody wins!

  29. Des says:

    What really matters at the end of the day is that folk appear to have designed unsustainable buinsess plans and now “it’s someone elses” fault.

    I find it amusing that of the entire cost base it’s the workers who get singled out – nothing mentioned about the enormous rents , the over-glossy fittings, the electicity-devouring lights etc.

  30. Well, on the one hand, the law is the law and it should be obeyed.

    On the other hand, you have to recognise, wages in service are becoming totally unrealistic in a declining economy. Higher wages are fine in busy areas, but paying 18 euros an hour to employ someone in a coffee shop in the west of ireland is just not a goer. You would have to be selling 60 euros per hour to keep one person going, and 120 euros/hour to keep two going, and strictly speaking you will need two, to cover the breaks.

    How can this be workable?

  31. @Antoin

    Of course the other set of details is that any staff are working for a boss (multiple bosses) who take their share of profits/losses from a business. The real issue in this case appears to be that the owners aren’t getting anything out of this and are seemingly losing money only from Sunday trading. The logical solution would appear to have the owners and no staff work on a Sunday thereby removing the wage bill and turning Sunday into pure profit for share or if Sunday is really so unprofitable and unworkable by the owners then perhaps it’s just not viable to operate on a Sunday. Not everything has to operate on the basis of a 24/7 economy we’re not a hive of bees. Wages are high, there’s no denying it but they are high right across the spectrum of employment and pushing down one group of workers because Sunday hours aren’t profitable doesn’t really help anyone in the long run. Rather than work for Sandwich X, workers will just flock to Dept Store Y who do pay double and don’t quibble about it and have a high staff turnover and are always seeking part-time workers. I strongly feel that the business model is what needs to be looked at here. According to the release only 75% of these stores open on a Sunday anyway so obviously somebody has already done the math and decided to take the sensible option in 25% of cases? Just because people don’t work on an unprofitable Sunday doesn’t mean that jobs are lost unless people are only hired to work on Sundays.

  32. What you are talking about is having the smallest businesses in our country shut down so that the strongest ones survive, and so that rural businesses become completely unviable in favour of businesses in built up areas. That’s a policy that can be argued for, but it seems strange for a laissez-faire capitalist to think that compulsory double-time on Sundays is a good idea.

    If the businesses you are talking about close down on Sundays, then 7 or 8 percent of the workforce will have to go, simply because there are 7 or 8 percent fewer hours to cover. You think this is a good idea. I can tell you with some certainty that laying off 8 percent of the catering workers in small towns will have a very profound negative effect.

    You seem so certain that it’s the business model that’s wrong – what would you change? Do you think that restaurant/cafe prices should increase?

    This has nothing much to do with a move to a 24/7 economy. This has to do with opening cafes and restaurants on Sundays. Cafes and restaurants have always opened on Sundays, even in countries with strong Sunday trading laws.

    There are no department stores in small towns to pay double-time. The choices that you imagine just aren’t there for the people who work and live in these places.

    This is just the worst end of a general problem, not just confined to Sundays. The minimum wage is just too high to be sustainable in rural areas. Businesses are going to close and jobs are going to be lost in the poorest, most vulnerable parts of our country.

    None of this detracts from the fact that this is currently the law of the land, and it’s understandable that NERA wants to see it obeyed.

  33. Within the context of this discussion I would hardly consider it to be focussed on the smallest businesses in this country. Privately owned newsagents, small greengrocers, and many others would fill the void of the smallest businesses in my mind above the weighty pedigree carried by one of the biggest franchises in the country.

    If you only knew me, the term “laissez-faire capitalist” would be so funny. If anything it’s the closest I’ve ever come to being called a capitalist – most often people call me a communist. 🙂 However, neither are correct and in this instance I never said that double time on a Sunday should be compulsory – the issue is that it is.

    I’m confused by the second paragraph, perhaps while I try to keep the context of this thread. I don’t think that establishments should shut down at all. In small towns I would doubt very much that there even is a Sunday trade to worry about shutting down. Therefore curtailing the hours we speak about in favour of not losing money which is apparently the case here, would not impact on rural employment sectors that neither support the nor command the Sunday working hours.

    The business model is wrong if the maths at the opening gambit, in line with the current laws, do not equal a profit. Increasing product prices is one way of solving it but would put off customers. I’m not able to comment on specifics but according to one poster here who has inside knowledge of the establishments in question, 6 figure debt is being accrued and the only cost cutting measure is dropping the double time on a Sunday. Maybe I’m being too glib but I really doubt that this is the case. This is more like a precedent gambit to remove the double time from the Irish workplace. I don’t have a problem with that personally but let’s not dress it up as some last ditch attempt to save a dying business when the losses being racked up are certainly not coming from only 7-8% of trading hours, on a Sunday.

    Having navigated the country and living in Ireland least known city, I can assure you that it is neither the history nor the rule that all cafes open on a Sunday. Some do, some don’t – not all have to/want to.

    Again there seems to be a conflict of base for your counter here? I appreciate that there are few department stores in small towns but I very much doubt that there are that many non-owner run cafes in small towns that rely on 2 or more workforce besides themselves to keep the business afloat. The demand for Sunday trading and multiple staff comes from high demand, large population bases with constant traffic and supporting retail to bring people into the town/city/shopping centre. This population does not exist in small towns and as such neither does the demand.

    I completely agree with you that the minimum wage is far too high; not just for rural areas either. However, I only make that judgment in terms of Ireland as a whole and as an attractive labour market. Sadly the hour has long passed to curb our ever-rising floor of socio-economic guilt that appears to run this country. Hitting the minimum wage now would open up an even bigger rich-poor gap and further push the country into a welfare state scenario whereby it’s no longer feasible for people to work.

    The country has major problems with respect to the labour market, suspect salary rules and other such but maybe this is indicating something else to us all? Perhaps it’s time for the 20% of Pareto’s rule to get their hands dirty again? There’s not much use in an employee who doesn’t work and just plays megalomania all day. 😉

  34. Kieran says:

    It’s easy to make Mr Brody a scapegoat, but he is an Irish employer who provides jobs for many people who I am guessing are happy to have them. One could argue whether the pay should be higher or lower, but a job is still better than none at all.

    I can speak for many business people in Kerry (including ourselves) who do pay the premium and are thinking of closing down on Sundays. Quite a few retailers and cafes have already done so. People are defintely losing jobs because of this issue. With the tighter economy, the balance has shifted on Sundays. It’s just not profitable anymore, especially in rural or tourist areas.

    Unless you’re a civil servant, things are pretty dire around here. In our little town, six shops and cafes have failed over the last couple months. You can’t blame the Sunday premium for it, but it doesn’t help when you’re faced with either losing a trading day or losing money.

    And the premium is unfair. Hotels are exempt from the double time, and I think so are supermarkets.

    Finally, the Sunday premium has never been an issue for our staff. They are naturally happy for more money, but they wouldn’t expect it. It’s not the 1950’s anymore. Most people don’t see Sunday as a day of rest and don’t mind going out shopping or working. Both our customers and our staff would hate to have us close on a Sunday. Yet, we might well have to do so.

    We’ve been playing an intellectual exercise over the last years where just about everyone believes that wages should be higher and prices lower. Of course they should. Who could argue that? Now we’re losing 2,000 jobs a week. Business are failing all around us. People still want wages higher and prices lower. You can blame the employers, but it’s not hard to see why there could well be many more losses to come.

  35. Kieran & Antoin – Solid common sense – Thank you both for bringing some balance into this discussion.

  36. Damien says:

    It’s troublesome that businesspeople here seem to suggest that their employees should be grateful for their job and many of these employees don’t mind not getting their legal entitlements. Where have I heard this before?

    “So do you want the job working with asbestos or not? Plenty around who will work with it without those pesky legal health and safety conditions”

    Don’t like your working conditions? Quit.
    Don’t like the commercial conditions in Ireland for your company? Quit.

  37. Kieran says:

    Easy there. I wasn’t for an instant suggesting that people shouldn’t get that to which they are legally entitled. I was just asking whether this law makes sense in this day and age and pointing out that it will cost jobs. It seems to be more of something that the government thinks is a good idea rather than what employees (in my experience at least) really want.

    As for being grateful for jobs, I think we could well be entering into a time where many people, including myself as an employer will be grateful to have their job. And as for your last point, unfortunately we will see more and more of that. How many foreign-owned companies are on the edge of quitting our shores? Is that really a good thing?

  38. Damien – We all have rights, even employers who are not for the most part the exploitative scumbags that some of the comments on this posting would suggest.

    There are bad employers who exploit and abuse workers just as there are bad employees who abuse the state protections for workers and manipulate the welfare system. Sadly we now have a very adversarial working environment where rights are enforced but responsibilities are ignored. Both employers and employees have both rights and responsibilities. Neither of these are absolutes. Any individual’s rights are circumscribed by their impact on their neighbour – If everyone got what was due to them they might not be so passionate about rights and might start to consider responsibility.

    This applies to both employers and employees alike. If my rights as an employee when fully exercised cause my employment to fail then does not responsibility kick in whereby I take responsibility for the future of my employment by being prepared to compromise. The same applies to employers who may apply discretionary leniency to an employee who is having personal difficulties and who through same is perhaps failing to do their work properly – The employer may be entitled to sack the said person but one would hope that they would take a more sympathetic view and do their best to help their employee get back on their feet – In my wife’s business this has been the case on more than one occasion.

    The situation we find ourselves in is perhaps symptomatic of society as a whole where trust has broken down and has been replaced by legalism which of its nature destroys working relationships.

    I’m not suggesting a return to the ‘Good old days’ which were perhaps even worse in other ways but I do think that a system focussed solely on rights will never create a happy working environment. This must be a priority no matter how much we earn we should have some sense of fulfillment in our work which takes up a large proportion of our short lives. All this is an attempt to move the discussion beyond the impasse of Them and Us – We are all in this together.

  39. Damien says:

    exploitative scumbags that some of the comments on this posting would suggest.

    Who said that? Or is it going to remain as “some people”?

    If my rights as an employee when fully exercised cause my employment to fail then does not responsibility kick in whereby I take responsibility for the future of my employment by being prepared to compromise.

    Giving up some things in order for a bit of peace or money have been catastrophic in the past have they not? If you compromise integrity and morals or turn a blind eye to bad or illegal practices what happens then?

  40. Fergal says:

    If the labour market is such that the only way an employer can get staff to work for him is by paying €8.65 an hour, then the minimum wage act is unnecessary. It becomes necessary when the labour market is such that employers are no longer forced (or willing) to pay that rate. The right to a minimum wage, like all legal rights, only becomes an issue when people want to deny it. So saying that the minimum wage should be lowered, or abolished, everytime there’s an economic downturn is top make a mockery of the entire concept. Rights must be enforceable against those who seek to deny them, and they must be enforceable in bad times as well as good, otherwise they’re not rights, they’re favours.

  41. Which is more important, the right to minimum wage and double on Sunday, or the right to work and make a living? In the end there is going to be a choice.

    The problem is that workers are going to be forbidden from doing the latter.

    I don’t see the difficulty understanding the equation – shorter weekly opening hours translate directly and necessarily into fewer jobs.

    The purpose of a minimum wage is to stop exploitation. It is not there to stop people from getting jobs.

    I don’t think you are realistic about how hard it is to make money in a service business outside the main centres. I don’t think you understand how dependent smaller communities are on one or two businesses to bring in money and how vulnerable they are if they lose them.

    I don’t think you appreciate what’s happening in our tourism industry as one example. The prices we are charging for food and refreshments are just not sustainable on the world stage. In the past the prices might have been driven by greed for sure, but now, the prices are driven by high labour costs, particularly outside the centres. If you are going to shut down all the small and medium sized cafes and restaurants on a Sunday (including pubs that serve food), that is going to have an impact on tourism.

    Here is the SI by the way.

    And as I say, the fact that it’s a crappy law isn’t a reason not to obey it.

  42. exploitative scumbags that some of the comments on this posting would suggest.

    Who said that? Or is it going to remain as “some people”?

    >>>Nobody said it! As I said above the comments are suggestive of this attitude<<>None of us can have all our rights – In a limited world with limited resources it is simply not possible – compromise (on both sides) is essential and inevitable and any legislation which removes local bargaining power is ultimately destructive IMHO <<

  43. Not sure if you last post was directed at me Antoin as there was no indicator but since you say “you” I’ll assume it’s a continuation of our discussion. 🙂

    I don’t want an argument with you but I think the problem here is that there are actually two issues being correlated and debated as one. The issue of minimum wage/double time law being respected and that of how businesses survive in this economic climate. It’s not that the two are mutually exclusive but Sunday hours aren’t as simple as you are making out in the context of supporting XYZ.

    Every economy operates on balance: For the last 15 years in Ireland we experienced a construction boom. The construction workforce and supporting industries thrived and bloated beyond sustainability. 20 years ago in Ireland, in rural areas that you refer to, we had the village café if you were lucky and perhaps a sandwich shop in the centre of bigger cities to support the tea/coffee rooms of hotels and the occasional café. All back in a time when tourism was one of the biggest earners in the country and Sunday trading was a distant prospect. Today all big cities are flooded with these sandwich shops to the extent that people question will I go for a B or will I go for a C for lunch today. Now choice is good but from a business perspective there is only so much custom and too much choice in the market means that somebody (or everybody) isn’t making money by simple breakeven analysis.

    The problem with understanding the equation of the business plan is that while more hours might equal more jobs for workers it doesn’t necessarily mean profitable or sustainable business. I could setup 20 coffee shops in the morning all competing against each other, within the one area, and be out of business this time next week. I have to operate within the parameters of profitability and just because a well-known franchise or already done business looks like a good way to earn a living, it doesn’t make it feasible to enter the market if the staff necessary to run the business cost too much to gain the edge on competitors without long-term recouping of initial outlay and neither does it make sense to oversupply a flooded marketplace with choice that might be good for the consumer but which doesn’t equal profit for the business owner. We’re into soup kitchen territory then.

    I fully appreciate how hard it is for rural towns to make money and attract custom to enrich their local economy. However, we seem to be missing the point that these rural towns (not sure how rural you actually mean but rural in my mind is certainly a lot smaller than let’s say Waterford City) don’t have the demand for Sunday trading hours; any café operating in such a town is normally owner run and doesn’t incur the double time issue. However, let’s take my home city of Waterford as an example. In terms of inhabitants, supporting those 5 mins walk across the river in co Kilkenny also, the city centre supports (excluding tourists) approximately 55-60 thousand people on any given day and that’s only those living within the city boundary or within 5 mins of the city centre. Sunday trading is still not a fact of life in Waterford and yet it has always historically been a huge tourism zone off the back of the crystal factory and other medieval attractions. Sunday opening is constrained to large dept stores and to seasonally adjusted needs such as Christmas shopping weeks when consumerism is rampant and there’s money to be made by the increased activity. Only one or two café type shops open on a Sunday, usually only after lunch and the remainder of the need is served by hotels and their dining facilities. Now if a small city supporting 60,000 occupants doesn’t see the demand for Sunday hours then I fail to see how anything more rural does?

    I’ve already agreed with you that the minimum wage is already too high and I do appreciate how this portrays us in global terms as per my previous comment. The other issue here that seems to be ignored continually is that perhaps, just maybe, there is too much supply in the market for this type of business in certain areas? Now creating jobs is great and all that but creating unsustainable jobs according to the figures in this thread, doesn’t make any sense – it turns business into charity and simply puts huge pressure on an economy that is already suffering from the lack of stable investment and primary employment sectors that support the tertiary services of catering by injecting cash into the economy. I fear even making the next comment but it’s a fact and as such will hopefully be treated that way: In recent times there has been huge growth in the café/sandwich shop arena and for whatever reason (Irish greed or otherwise) the staffing situation seems to provide for a great deal of migrant workers. This presents the question of what the equivalent national worker is doing if the population has increased by one for every migrant worker job? Sadly in an increasing number of cases the national worker is opting to hop on the dole queue because it’s less hassle and greater benefit to them to do so. This means that we have less people with a tie to the country creating and bolstering future employment positions and a greater draw on our social welfare system as a result.

    The economy will only support so many jobs, no matter how good our intentions are. We have to realise that supply and demand must be observed. Franchise parents get their money no matter what happens on the street. There is no easy way to make money or do business, it’s always hard work. Not doing the math and identifying these problems before trading commences is a serious fundamental flaw in business planning, irrespective of the counter argument that minimum wage is too high or we need to create more jobs – we can only support what is profitable, anything beyond is not a genuine need.

  44. All I am saying is that the ecology of work and society is delicate, and these dumb rules are damaging it unnecessarily. All eating places are effected, not just cafes and free-standing restaurants. It seems a pity that there are so few restaurants where you can eat on a Sunday evening in a town the size of Waterford.

    If what you say about some Irish workers is true (and I agree, it could well be), then the problem is that the dole payment is too high.

    I think what you are getting at is that services like cafes don’t add value in the way that export-oriented jobs do, and that we should concentrate on developing export-oriented jobs. (I may be paraphrasing you wrongly here, in which case I apologize.) At first face, that’s true, but it’s not that simple. Cafes do (sometimes) add to quality of life by making the place vibrant and interesting to live in, something which will attract and hold skilled workers. Other services which may appear ‘low end’ are similarly important. Another important role of these jobs is to spread money around in the economy. That’s why vibrant local service economies are part of all modern developed markets.

  45. I would agree Antoin – these rules are upsetting the Irish workplace and are damaging to the economy in the long run. It goes beyond eating places even. Just with respect to Waterford City however, what I meant was that cafés are predominantly closed not restaurants. Restaurants operate on a higher level of income per product and there is a good selection on offer on a Sunday. Likewise hotels with restaurants are open too but they subsidise income with room rates and other services. What I really meant is that the cafés operating at the base level do not open because it isn’t financially viable. However, the compensation may come from restaurants (except hotels) not opening on a Monday instead.

    Dole payment when taken on its own is probably too high but when taken in the context of society its too easy for the socialists to argue otherwise. The real problem is that folk aren’t given community jobs to do in return for payment and as such the net worth to society is actually a drain on the economy.

    I can see how what I said may have come across as build export jobs and down with cafés, etc but perhaps I need to fine tune my phrasing a little. Really what I was thinking is that the balance of cafés to sustaining local economies is probably a little upset these days. They are incredibly plentiful without even adding the sandwich franchises to the equation whom are now doubt taking from the traditional café’s customers. A good selection of cafés is essential to keep a buzz to an area and entice people inwards to the centre (other). However, they cannot survive in areas where the disposable income creating workforce aren’t that gainfully employed nor can they operate when the number of cafés in existence divides the market share beyond breakeven point.

    I think we are largely on the same hymn sheet in terms of our background thinking. However, my argument in this post was that the existing business rules should not be costing jobs nor closing business to close down (especially the business type that prompted this post by Damien). Any business starting out, knowing the rules (as unfair as they may be) should be able to run a 1, 3 and 5 year prediction of business. If the figures aren’t adding up at prediction stage allowing for 7-day opening and double time Sundays then there’s no point in opening the business and therefore no jobs lost. The issue at hand is to then decide if 6-day opening is viable or if a different type of business can turn a profit for the investor to create other jobs and a life for themselves. Just for the record, I do agree with your points about the min wage, etc I just think there’s a different argument here to be teased out as to why relatively new businesses with prior knowledge are effectively blaming their ignorance for their problems but expecting the government to make up for it. 😉

  46. I agree that it is very unwise to open a business without knowledge of the relevant JLC agreement. I likewise agree that there was madness going on regarding this. I heard about this (and advised someone on it) about three or four years ago. Loads of experienced and apparently otherwise sane restaurant and cafe people, even in Dublin, where the extra isn’t that big just seemed to have decided that this didn’t apply to them. It was crazy. If they thought they couldn’t afford it, they should have at least started lobbying to have it changed, then they’d have some sort of excuse now, even if it was just a Gandhi job.

    If the business never opens, then the jobs are never even created. Jobs are being lost because of this policy and I think that is a serious loss.

    I think you are a bit optimistic about the economics of small hotels and restaurants. The margin on cooked food is lower than on sambos and a lot lower than on coffee. It’s tough to run a restaurant without 4 or 5 staff, and at 19 euros an hour or whatever, you need to do a lot of covers to get it to make sense.

    We have to think about flexibility in the economy overall to maximise the use of resources. Inflexible rules = a vulnerable economy.

    Here’s an interesting example of something similar in an unrelated sector.

    “It’s making it impossible. You should be able to set up a radio station for €150,000, except that new entrants to the market can’t do that because of the regulations. So if you’re spending €2m on a studio, you’re then paying lease payments or equity against that – or you’re borrowing as much money as you can.” (DO’B on regulation –

    It’s interesting who is saying this – a person whom you would think has more to lose than anyone else from new entrants in the radio business.