News Archives - Page 5 of 308 - Pat Carroll PCCO - Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisors

Unions warn of fallout from wage legislation ruling

A trade union has warned employers of an “industrial war” if they try to renege on pay and pension agreements with workers.

It comes after the High Court yesterday deemed legislation allowing for the setting of legally enforceable pay and conditions for workers in various employment sectors to be unconstitutional.

The Connect Trade Union, which represents workers in construction and engineering, said it would take “stringent action” against employers that try to use the ruling to to break from previously-agreed Sectoral Employment Orders.

Connect’s general secretary Paddy Kavanagh said they had written to all stakeholders to ask them to continue to honour the agreements that have been in place. He said a failure to do so would “end the industrial peace, which benefits us all at this time.”

“Employers are now on notice that we will consider an attack on any one sector or worker in that sector an attack on all,” he said.

Meanwhile the Unite union has called on the Government to an immediate seek a stay of the court’s decision pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.

It also called for robust emergency legislation to protect workers’ terms and conditions should an appeal be delayed for any reason.

Unite’s regional officer Tom Fitzgerald said the timing of the ruling “threatens the incomes of tends of thousands of workers and thus puts our economic recovery at risk”.

He also said it opened the door for workers to take industrial action, which could be damaging to employers.

Yesterday’s ruling strikes down legislation from 2015, which was put in place to address flaws in the 1946 Industrial Relations Act, which in 2013 was itself deemed unconstitutional in how it dealt with sectoral wage-setting mechanisms. 

The Sectoral Employment Orders fixed legally binding minimum rates of pay conditions including a sick pay scheme, pension contributions for all employers in the sector – including those who had not been party to the negotiations. 

Employers breaching the terms could face criminal prosecution.  

However a body called National Electrical Contractors Ireland (NECI), representing small to medium-sized electrical firms, challenged both the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015, and a 2019 SEO for the electrical contracting sector made under the legislation.

Yesterday a spokesperson for the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, which oversees the Labour Court, said the detailed judgment was currently under review, and that the Department was not in a position to comment on the ruling until the matter had received proper consideration. 

Article Source: Click Here

Unions warn of fallout from wage legislation ruling

A trade union has warned employers of an “industrial war” if they try to renege on pay and pension agreements with workers.

It comes after the High Court yesterday deemed legislation allowing for the setting of legally enforceable pay and conditions for workers in various employment sectors to be unconstitutional.

The Connect Trade Union, which represents workers in construction and engineering, said it would take “stringent action” against employers that try to use the ruling to to break from previously-agreed Sectoral Employment Orders.

Connect’s general secretary Paddy Kavanagh said they had written to all stakeholders to ask them to continue to honour the agreements that have been in place. He said a failure to do so would “end the industrial peace, which benefits us all at this time.”

“Employers are now on notice that we will consider an attack on any one sector or worker in that sector an attack on all,” he said.

Meanwhile the Unite union has called on the Government to an immediate seek a stay of the court’s decision pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.

It also called for robust emergency legislation to protect workers’ terms and conditions should an appeal be delayed for any reason.

Unite’s regional officer Tom Fitzgerald said the timing of the ruling “threatens the incomes of tends of thousands of workers and thus puts our economic recovery at risk”.

He also said it opened the door for workers to take industrial action, which could be damaging to employers.

Yesterday’s ruling strikes down legislation from 2015, which was put in place to address flaws in the 1946 Industrial Relations Act, which in 2013 was itself deemed unconstitutional in how it dealt with sectoral wage-setting mechanisms. 

The Sectoral Employment Orders fixed legally binding minimum rates of pay conditions including a sick pay scheme, pension contributions for all employers in the sector – including those who had not been party to the negotiations. 

Employers breaching the terms could face criminal prosecution.  

However a body called National Electrical Contractors Ireland (NECI), representing small to medium-sized electrical firms, challenged both the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015, and a 2019 SEO for the electrical contracting sector made under the legislation.

Yesterday a spokesperson for the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, which oversees the Labour Court, said the detailed judgment was currently under review, and that the Department was not in a position to comment on the ruling until the matter had received proper consideration. 

Article Source: Click Here

Economic growth averaged 5.2% every year between 2013 and 2018 – CSO

Growth in the Irish economy averaged 5.2% per annum from 2013 to 2018, according to an analysis of new CSO data.

In a Special Article for the ESRI, Professor John Fitzgerald describes a measure, called Net National Product, as the best picture of the “economic welfare of those living in Ireland”.

For years, the traditional measure of economic growth, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has given a distorted picture of what is going on in the Irish economy.

In 2015, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman referred to the reported 25% jump in Ireland’s GDP that year as “leprechaun economics”.

The average 5.2% rate compares to an average rate of 10.5% when measured by GDP.

The CSO has made attempts to account for the impact of the tax treatment of intellectual property by multinationals as well as other activities such as aircraft leasing.

Professor Fitzgerald’s analysis on Net National Product also shows the foreign-owned sector accounted for a fifth of that growth and just over a quarter of the national wage bill.

Article Source: Click Here

Consumer sentiment improves for second month after Covid-19 collapse

Consumer sentiment improved in June for the second month in a row, but remains well below levels recorded before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, a survey showed today. 

The KBC Bank consumer sentiment index climbed to 61.6 in June from 52.3 in May, but remains some distance from February’s pre-pandemic reading of 85.2. 

In April the index had dropped to 42.6 in the sharpest month-on-month decline in the survey’s 24-year history. 

The recovery in consumer sentiment mirrors gains in similar indicators for the UK, the US and the euro zone, and suggests the easing of lockdown measures is making consumers feel slightly less negative about the economic outlook, the index compilers said. 

“There was a significant improvement in expectations for household finances a year from now but, again, this needs to be seen in context,” said Austin Hughes, chief economist at KBC Bank Ireland. 

“Only one in 20 consumers envisages better financial circumstances through the next 12 months whereas one in three expects a deterioration,” the economist added. 

Ireland in March shut pubs, restaurants and non-essential retail outlets and ordered people to stay at home.

But the Government has announced plans to accelerate the reopening of its economy as the rate of Covid-19 infections falls.

Austin Hughes said that fading fears should support stronger spending.

But he but warned that “the cautious tone of responses to questions on personal finances suggests a still fearful and, in many instances, financially damaged Irish consumer”.

“To set sentiment and spending on a solid rather than a shrunken trajectory, we think the survey emphasises the need for an ambitious and early fiscal stimulus to limit the lasting damage of Covid-19 to the Irish economy,” the economist added.

Article Source: Click Here

Ibec calls for end to travel restrictions

Employers’ group Ibec has called for Ireland’s international travel restrictions to be ended and for testing and tracing to be used in place of “ineffective” quarantine measures.

People entering Ireland from abroad currently have to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon arrival into the country.

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said there were benefits from quarantine but there were costs too and the benefits will only accrue if the quarantine is effective.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sarah McInerney, he said that filling out forms is an “ineffective quarantine”.

He said the proportion of people with the virus is so small that testing and tracing would be more effective than a “crude” quarantine system.

He said the ongoing restrictions as a result of Covid-19 continue to suppress the economy and is leading to other bad health outcomes and even creating air bridges with some countries carries risks unless transmission rates are at zero in those countries.

Mr McCoy said it is important for many businesses that travel resumes as “subject matter experts” have to fly in to serve business all the time.

Public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally said he would favour the continuation of quarantining to achieve a zero-Covid-19 Ireland.

Speaking on the same programme, Dr Scally said he doubts that anyone outside the aviation industry thinks dropping the quarantine period is a good idea and that the quarantine measures should be extended past 9 July.

The only safe way forward, he said, is to keep up the barriers and be a zero-Covid island, before opening travel links with other countries who are in a similar situation.

Dr Scally said the disease was imported by air and the country does not need a second wave when things are going well.

He said the idea of air bridges is a good one and gradually over time, as more countries eliminate the virus, more opportunities for that type of travel will open up, adding that one of the busiest air links in Europe is Dublin to London, but the situation in England is not under control.

Pádraig Ó Céidigh, aviation taskforce member and aviation businessman, said there is no way of policing quarantine and he believes that “it isn’t working”.

Mr Ó Céidigh said the code of practice for safe air travel, developed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, should be adopted.

The number one objective of aviation in Ireland, he said, is safe travel for passengers and this objective will remain number one.

He said that Ireland will never reach a point of becoming a zero-virus country.

Elsewhere, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called on the Government to make Covid-19 an occupational illness.

ICTU General Secretary Patricia King has written to the Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation, Heather Humphreys on the issue.

If contracting Covid-19 in the workplace was designated an occupational illness, all cases would have to be notified to the Health and Safety Authority.

“In particular healthcare workers continue to perform their duties in circumstances of serious and ever-present danger of contracting that disease. The situation in which they are, of necessity, placed is without precedent or parallel,” the letter from Ms King states.

“Public transport workers frontline workers interacting with the public, airport and port workers are by virtue of the nature of their occupation also more exposed to the virus.”

More than 8,000 healthcare workers have been infected with the virus, with the majority of these cases of the virus contracted in the workplace.

Article Source: Click Here

IMF lowers 2020 growth forecasts again amid Covid-19 crisis

The International Monetary Fund has further lowered its forecasts for global economic growth this year.  

In its World Economic Outlook published today, the IMF said economies around the world have been more negatively impacted in the first half of the year than it had anticipated and recovery has been more gradual than previously forecast.  

The IMF has lowered forecasts for global growth this year by an additional 1.9%, compared to its forecast in April, and it now expects global GDP to shrink by 4.9% in 2020.

Next year, it said it expects activity to recover by 5.4%.

But this would still leave the level of global GDP next year 6.5% lower than it had been forecast to be back in January of this year.

The IMF also warned today that the impact of Covid-19 on low income households will be “particularly acute.”

Using data from the International Labour Organisation, it said the reduction in global work hours from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020, is equivalent to the loss of 130 million full time jobs.

It forecasts that the second quarter of this year could see the equivalent loss of 300 million full time jobs.

The IMF said it believes that around 80% of the estimated 2 billion casually employed people around the world will have been affected.

The impact will be most severe on low skilled and low income households who do not have the option of working from home, it added.

In countries where recovery has begun, the IMF still expects a negative economic impact with continued social distancing and lower productivity from new health and safety practices in workplaces.

The IMF said the coronavirus pandemic is taking a severe toll on Europe, with the euro area economy set to plunge by 10.2% this year. 

The updated World Economic Outlook was dramatically worse than the April forecasts, and shows that even Germany will contract by 7.8% while other countries fare much worse.

France’s GDP is expected to plunge 12.5% while Italy and Spain could shrink by 12.8%. 

Britain also is likely to see a double-digit decline, with its economy contracting by 10.2%, the IMF said.

Today’s outlook from the IMF also predicts that the US economy will contract 8% in 2020, but China will eke out 1% growth.

The IMF also said that key emerging market economies are taking a severe hit to GDP amid the coronavirus pandemic, with India seeing the first contraction in decades. 

Its updated World Economic Outlook shows India’s GDP will fall 4.5% this year, far worse than expected in April just after the pandemic first took hold outside of China.

Mexico will see a double digit decline of 10.5% while Brazil just misses that mark with a drop of 9.1%. 

Argentina is projected to fall 9.9%, with the country already in the middle of a massive debt crunch on top of the health and economic crises after once again defaulting on its foreign obligations.

During the global financial crisis in 2009, these emerging markets, along with China, were booming, supporting the global economy even as advanced nations faced severe recessions.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s GDP is seen dropping 8%, while oil-producer Nigeria falls 5.4%, the IMF said today.
Article Source: Click Here

Global trade to shrink 18.5% in Q2, defying worst fears – WTO

Global trade is expected to drop around 18.5% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2020 in a huge coronavirus-driven plunge which nonetheless could have been much worse, the WTO said today. 

“Initial estimates for the second quarter, when the virus and associated lockdown measures affected a large share of the global population, indicate a year-on-year drop of around 18.5%,” the World Trade Organization said in a statement. 

The global trade body said that in the first quarter, the volume of merchandise trade shrank by 3% year on year. 

Giving its initial estimates for the second three months of the year,the expected drop of 18.5% was better than the WTO’s worst predictions. 

“The fall in trade we are now seeing is historically large – in fact, it would be the steepest on record. But there is an important silver lining here – it could have been much worse,” said outgoing WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo. 

“This is genuinely positive news but we cannot afford to be complacent,” he stated.

In its annual trade forecast issued on April 20, the WTO forecast volumes would contract by between 13% at best and 32% at worst in 2020.

“As things currently stand, trade would only need to grow by 2.5% per quarter for the remainder of the year to meet the optimistic projection,” the WTO said. 

“However, looking ahead to 2021, adverse developments, including a second wave of Covid-19 outbreaks, weaker than expected economic growth, or widespread recourse to trade restrictions, could see trade expansion fall short of earlier projections.” 

Roberto Azevedo said policy decisions had softened the ongoing blow and would help determine the pace of economic recovery from the crisis. 

“For output and trade to rebound strongly in 2021, fiscal, monetary, and trade policies will all need to keep pulling in the same direction,” said the Brazilian, who is leaving his post a year early at the end of August.

Article Source: Click Here

Consumers spent €600 million using contactless payments in May

The impact of Covid-19 on how consumers are spending is recorded in the latest figures from the banking sector.

In May, consumers spent €600 million using contactless payments, the highest monthly figure on record.

The figures were compiled by Banking and Payments Federation Ireland.

Every day in May, more than €19 million was spent using contactless payments.

Consumers may be tapping slightly less because of the lockdown, but they are spending more.

In April, the amount people could spend using contactless payments increased from €30 to €50, so as a result the average spend per transaction is also up, more than €3.

Given the pandemic, it appears customers want to handle cash less.

More than 90% of consumers now use contactless with a quarter prefering using contactless when buying groceries.

Cashless society has been much talked about and it appears we are inching ever closer, but it remains some way off.

“The volume of contactless payments were down in May when compared to February before COVID-19 hit, however this must be seen in the context of the restrictions which only started to ease during the second half of May”,  Brian Hayes, CEO of the BPFI, said.

“With the recent acceleration of the reopening roadmap and the resulting uplift which has been seen in retail and hospitality spending in particular, we would expect that contactless volumes should show a recovery in the months ahead as more restrictions are lifted,” he concluded.

Article Source: Click Here

Ibec calling for ‘dramatic intervention’ to save businesses

A Government fund aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises to reopen and rebuild – as the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions are eased – needs to be at least quadrupled in size, according to employers’ group Ibec.

Ibec also said that loans with 100% State-backed credit guarantees and an interest rate holiday of 12 months are required if small firms are to get back on their feet.

The policy recommendations are contained in a new plan called Sustaining SMEs.

Ibec wants this plan to be considered by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens as part of the ‘July Stimulus’ contained in the proposed new programme for government.

However, the organisation also points to the ongoing instability around government formation as another issue that needs to be resolved.

“A stable political executive and legislature is crucial to enable implementation of urgent policy measures,” Ibec’s chief economist Gerard Brady said. 

The business group said the SME sector has been the worst impacted by the lockdown measures here, and action is required to save firms.

Ibec said over 100,000 SMEs were among those worst impacted by the shutdown and they employ over half a million people.

“Unless there is a dramatic intervention, significant numbers of businesses will fail in 2020,” Mr Brady said.

“Our research indicates that for over seven in 10 companies, the minimum period in which they expect ‘normal’ demand to return is greater than their existing cash reserves. This ‘liquidity gap’ will need to be bridged by external funding in order for many of these companies to survive.”

Mr Brady said it is recognised that not all SMEs will manage to survive, but it is crucially important that as much of the ecosystem as possible is protected through the implementation of a range of unprecedented measures.

These include the introduction by the Government of a fund to write down debts under the Revenue Commissioners tax warehousing scheme when such debts threaten business viability.

The group also wants the commercial rates waiver to be extended for a further three months, to a total of six months, with an additional deferral of six months.

In order to deal with the rents issue, Ibec is seeking a binding mandatory arbitration system for commercial lease disputes, including a form of state burden-sharing based on the Swedish model.

It also wants the €250m Restart Grant fund supercharged to over €1bn. This would include a flat payment of €15,000 for every company, rather than the current €2,000 to €10,000, with the link to the rates system removed.

Credit guarantees on loans with 100% guarantees (the existing scheme guarantees 80%), no portfolio limit and an interest rate holiday of 12 months is also required, followed by interest rates below the euro zone average, according to Ibec.

The group said its cashflow modelling work shows that if normality begins to return by the end of this month and demand reaches a break-even point by November, the average SME in consumer facing sectors will have fixed cost debts amounting to €45,000. 

This increased leverage, it said, is equivalent to almost 80 weeks’ post-tax profits. 

Over 40% of this debt is owed to the Revenue Commissioners and local authorities, with another 27% owed to the firm’s commercial landlord. 

The remainder is split roughly three ways between utilities, insurance and loan repayment, and suppliers.

Article Source: Click here

Crucial six months ahead for SME sector

Decisions taken in the next six months will impact the small and medium enterprise sector for the next five years, according to a treasury specialist who works closely with the sector.

John Finn, Managing Director of Treasury Solutions – which helps businesses deal with a range of issues including cash flow, lending and currency management – said there were a number of risks ahead for the sector at a crucial time for the survival of many firms as they deal with the fallout from Covid-19.

“The first is the formation of a new government. You need it to pass legislation for a loan guarantee scheme,” John Finn said.

“The second is a hard Brexit (if trade talks collapse) and the third is a second wave of the virus, which we will get,” he said.

“The timing of that prior to the conclusion of Brexit talks is an added complication. What we see is a need for a coordinated macro move by government with the SME sector to weather the next six months,” he added.

John Finn warned businesses that they would have to ‘dust down their hard-Brexit plans’ once again as the UK insists that it will not be seeking an extension to the end-year deadline for concluding trade talks.

“It’s the last thing they want to hear now as they’re dealing with Covid, but it remains a risk. This is where the state is going to have to come in with a concerted effort in the coming months.”

The reluctance of the UK to seek an extension to the negotiating deadline on a trade deal has seen sterling move back over 90 pence to the euro in recent days.

That renewed weakness puts further pressure on exporting companies as their goods become more expensive to sell into the UK market.

John Finn said it was likely there would be a degree of volatility out to the end of the year now with the pound-euro moving in the range of 88 to 92 pence with bouts of strength reflecting progress and bouts of weakness reflecting bad news.

“The markets have taken the view that they’re not going to seek an extension. In reality, there will be no trade deal. What you’ll probably get is a heads of terms agreed by the end of the year. They won’t call it an extension, but in reality it will be. They’ll probably get six months extra on some things and 12 months on others,” he said.

Article Source: Click Here