Call for extension of Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme for severely affected sectors

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SINN Féin Deputy Maurice Quinlivan has called for the government to extend the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme in its current format for workers in severely affected sectors.

Quinlivan said the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) has played a “crucial role in protecting incomes and supporting businesses, while maintaining a relationship between employees and their employers during these stressful times”.

“The economic impact of this pandemic on Limerick has been profound and without the TWSS more Limerick businesses would have closed and more mid-west jobs would have been lost,” he said.

As part of the July Stimulus Package announced by Government the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme will be replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).

“It was clear to Sinn Féin, and many workers in affected sectors, that the extension of the TWSS was required in order to provide continued support to businesses and workers and keep people in employment,” Said Deputy Quinlivan.

“However, the government decided to abandon the TWSS for the establishment of a new Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme in their July Stimulus and this is a mistake.

“In the coming days, workers on the TWSS are due to be moved over to the new EWSS.”

The Sinn Féin Deptuy believes the change “spells disaster for workers”.

He said, “This spells disaster for workers, as where once the government-funded up to €410 per worker per week – dependent on salary and employer top ups – under the TWSS, this will now be reduced to a headage payment of €203 per worker -dependent on salary, under the EWSS.”

Deputy Quinlivan said since the reopening of the economy began that it has been clear “that the continued public health measures would have a disproportionate impact on certain sectors, such as the tourism and hospitality sectors”.

He noted both Limerick city and county have “suffered due to the loss in overseas tourism”.

“While some other sectors have been able to return to former levels of trade with greater speed, businesses in certain sectors, such as the retail travel sector and the aviation sector, for instance, have been left with no hope of such a speedy recovery. Having worked in retail travel myself for 19 years I am very conscious of the Perilous state of their industry. They really are facing an existential crisis. They are in their own words the “Only industry working for Nothing”

“For over a month now Sinn Féin have been calling for the continuation of the TWSS until the end of 2020 for employers and employees of businesses that continue to be heavily impacted by COVID-19, the public health measures that have been introduced to contain it, and its broader economic impact,” Said Deputy Quinlivan.

“Thousands of jobs could be lost, many in the mid-west if the TWSS is not continued for these affected sectors, and the impact of that will be catastrophic.

“The extension of the TWSS is essential to protect jobs, protect businesses, and keep workers in employment.

“Such a measure will require the State to borrow and invest. However, the cost of not investing and extending the TWSS for these affected sectors will be far greater and will cost the State far more, economically and socially, through lost jobs and business closures,” he concluded.