Here's What Restaurants Want From This General Election – And What The 'Big Four' Are Promising Them
Find out what Ireland's €2 billion restaurant sector wants from our new government
In the run up to today's election, we’ve seen candidates grilled on a number of topics.
But one of the arguments we didn't hear was that of the restaurant sector, which contributes €2bn to the Irish economy, which also outlined what it wants from the next government.
Last week, the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) released their own GE Manifesto in which they lobby politicians over key industry issues.
Among the issues they want tackled by the next government are keeping VAT at 9%, freezing the minimum wage for five years and reducing employer’s PRSI contribution.
Figures from the RAI claim that the restaurant industry employs 72,000 people or a quarter of all tourism jobs in Ireland.
Despite this, the organisation's chief executive, Adrian Cummins, says there has been a lack of investment in the training of hospitality staff. He says this is the case since the disbanding of CERT, a national vocational programme, in 2003.
The result, is a shortage of skilled chefs in Ireland which is leading to “a major crisis” for the industry.
“We’ve been saying this since 2012 and it’s fallen on deaf ears… we’ve met huge resistance from the state agencies,” he said.
The RAI are calling for the reestablishment of CERT to help tackle the chef deficit.
“We need to get more and more young people into the culinary arts and as an interim measure we need to open up more visas for our industry with work permits being allowed for chefs,” Mr Cummins said.
Further requests listed in the manifesto are the reduction of excise duty and not enforcing calories on menus. The RAI have estimated that the cost to a small business of implementing calorie counts would be in excess of €5,000.
The full manifesto is available here.
So how do the 'Big Four' manifestos compare?
Fine Gael: They have pledged to keep VAT at 9% and increase the minimum wage to €10.50 per hour. They also plan to “establish an expert group” to look into a fairer system for determining commercial rates.
Labour: They want to introduce a Living Wage of €11.30 per hour.
Fianna Fail: Their manifesto proposes the introduction of an €11.50 per hour Living Wage. In relation to commercial rates, it details plans to introduce an “inability to pay clause” for struggling businesses.
Sinn Fein: As with Fine Gael, this manifesto commits to retaining VAT at 9% and finding a fairer system for calculating commercial rates for small businesses. Sinn Féin also plan to increase minimum wage to €9.65.