The News Letter reported yesterday on the Ulster Business Top 100 list of leading companies, which showed year-on-year profits had risen by 46% – up from £936.8 million to £1,367 billion.
Commenting on the figures, ICTU official Owen Reidy said: “Working people are being asked to tighten our belts, but the rise in profits by those companies shows quite clearly that there is money available to reward employees.”
He continued: “Not every business is going to be able to give a 10% pay rise, but for those businesses who can’t give a cost-of-living increase they should give a decent increase – and it should be combined with some kind of state intervention and state support around the social wage.
“Those companies that are in that top 100, there is no excuse for them not to play ball and reward their staff – and do their civic and economic duty as well, because many of those companies I am sure will have received significant economic supports during the pandemic.”
With industrial relations poor elsewhere in the UK, union leaders such as the RMT Secretary-General Mick Lynch have pointed to soaring profits from some companies as evidence of the need for a redistribution of wealth through pay negotiations with trade unions.
Mr Reidy, meanwhile, said it is a similar situation in Northern Ireland.
“It is a microcosm of what is going on everywhere,” he said. “A lot of companies, many of whom are doing very well now, will have got a lot of other support from the state.”
He added: “The only way you can properly distribute the wealth is through collective bargaining, unions and employers negotiating pay increases, and governments taxing the appropriate people and the appropriate companies to distribute that wealth.
“You can look at efficiency and productivity, but you have to reward workers.”