Wednesday, September 14, 2022

James Cox

Trade unions have criticised Government plans to increase the minimum wage by 80 cent to €11.30 an hour, saying it does not go far enough in working towards a living wage.

Trade union Unite called on the Government to set aside the Low Pay Commission report which recommends an increase in the hourly minimum wage of just 80 cent to €11.30.

Unite, which earlier this year made a submission to the Low Pay Commission calling for the minimum wage to be increased to €12.50, said that the proposed 80 cent increase means that the Government has effectively “ripped up” its commitment to move to a living wage by the end of its term in office.

The recommendation is going to Cabinet this morning.

Living wage

Unite regional coordinating officer Tom Fitzgerald said: “Earlier this year, Unite recommended increasing the minimum awe to €12.50 per hour as part of a two-year strategy to increase the minimum wage to 66 per cent of median earnings, which would equate to approximately €14.95 in 2024. Sixty-six per cent of median earnings is internationally accepted as the low pay threshold, and thus the living wage benchmark.

“It should be noted that the trade union representatives on the Low Pay Commission dissented from the recommendation.

“Last week the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, in its pre-Budget Submission, restated the view of the trade union movement that the minimum wage should be raised to the living wage – a view endorsed in a statement by a group of private sector unions including Unite.”

Mr Fitzgerald added: “By deciding to accept the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation, the Government would not only be ignoring the voice of the trade union movement and the workers we represent: it would also be ripping up its own commitment, in the Programme for Government, to move to the living wage by the end of the Coalition’s lifetime.

“If the Government is serious about addressing the cost of living crisis, which impacts disproportionately on the lowest paid, it must set aside the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation and announce a significant increase in the minimum age which will make real progress to the Government’s living wage commitment.”

We are willing to work with those employers who genuinely can’t afford to pay the living wage.

The assistant general secretary of the Mandate trade union has called for legislation to force employers who claim they cannot pay wage increases to prove why they cannot do so.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Jonathan Hogan said that some major employers who were “making millions and billions every year” were not willing to show their accounts. “They just show up at the Labour Court and say they can’t pay.”Mr Hogan was expressing concern for the proposed 80 cent increase in the minimum wage. It does not go far enough, he said. The rate of €11.30 should be a living wage of €14.The “default position” for employers was that they could not afford to pay increases. If employers were in difficulty then they should sit down with trade unions, “open their books” and explain why they cannot pay, he said.“We are willing to work with those employers who genuinely can’t afford to pay the living wage.”

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