The Restaurant Association of Ireland made the news yesterday with their claims that the Irish restaurant industry is in serious trouble. They say that one in three restaurants are due to close within six months, potentially causing the loss of a further 21,000 jobs. The RAI blame high rental costs, VAT and excise duty, and high staffing costs for the financial problems that restaurants find themselves in, and recommend that the minimum wage be lowered to €7.65 per hour.
Tom Doorley agrees with the minimum wage recommendation in his analysis of the report on his Megabites blog, saying: “According to the RAI, Ireland is the most expensive country in Europe in which to run a restaurant and I can well believe it.” It’s also true of course that Ireland is a very expensive place to live, and lowering the minimum wage and taking away Sunday overtime is going to adversely affect people who are already not terribly well paid.
It would seem to me that the RAI have a point when they say that many restaurants have lowered their prices, and are just faced with unsustainable business conditions, that have yet to catch up with the economic reality. But I always resent it when the first solution floated is to cut the wages of the lowest-paid. What do you think?