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Union condemns 'minimalist' wage rise proposal

Published 19/07/2015

Unite has condemned a proposed 50 cent increase in the minimum wage to 9.15 euro as 'minimalist'
Unite has condemned a proposed 50 cent increase in the minimum wage to 9.15 euro as 'minimalist'

Upping the minimum wage by just 50 cent would leave low-paid workers at the back of the queue in sharing the spoils of the recovery, one of the country's largest unions has warned.

Unite said a proposed 9.15 euro rate, currently being considered by the coalition Government, is well below the 11.50 euro "living wage" called for by experts.

Jimmy Kelly, the union's Ireland Secretary, said the "minimalist" increase is disappointing.

"Once again, it seems that low-paid workers are at the back of the queue when it comes to sharing in the fruits of recovery," he said.

"The question is not whether we can afford to tackle low pay. The question is whether we can afford not to tackle low pay."

Earlier this month, the Living Wage Technical Group - experts from social justice organisations, trade unions and other groups - calculated people in Ireland need 450 euro a week to have a decent standard of living.

This would mean a "living wage" of at least 11.50 euro per hour.

A report published earlier this month by the think-tank Tasc said more than three-quarters of people think the minimum wage should be increased to 11.50 euro an hour - the recognised salary needed for someone to live above the breadline.

Unite had called for a 1 euro increase to 9.65 euro.

Mr Kelly said a medium term strategy of increasing the national minimum wage to "living wage" levels would have both social and economic benefits.

"Unfortunately, the minimalist increase proposed by the Low Pay Commission will delay achievement of that goal," he added.

The Low Pay Commission has called on the Government to adopt a 50 cent increase in the hourly rate, according to Government sources.

If accepted the pay rise could see the lowest paid workers get a 1,014 euro rise over a year.

The recommendation was made last week in a report to Ged Nash, Minister for Business and Employment.

"The minister received the report late on Friday night and is now considering it. He expects to bring it to cabinet next week," a spokeswoman said.

Government sources said the increase could be enacted in January.

The current minimum wage rate is 8.65 euro.

As part of its work reviewing minimum wage rates over the last few months the Low Pay Commission looked at data from a range of sources, took submissions from interested parties and met minimum wage workers and their employers.

Other factors taken into account were competitiveness, currency exchange and unemployment.

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