Labour’s Alternative Budget will give a boost to working people- Nash

04 October 2017

Labour Spokesperson on Employment and Social Protection, Senator Ged Nash, has said plans unveiled in Labour’s Alternative Budget 2018 today would make a real difference to working people.

The measures include ensuring that all public servants and childcare workers earn at a minimum a Living Wage of €11.70 per hour, the indexation of all weekly, monthly and employment top-up welfare payments, and the full restoration of weekly Jobseekers payment rates for the under 26s.

Senator Nash said:

“Labour is the party of work. Our priorities are to increase the number of our citizens in work and to ensure decent pay for that work. But, while headline economic growth has been over 5% for the past three years, wages rose last year by only 1.1%.

“There is no sustainable future for our economy if we base it on low wages, casual employment, uncertain hours and bogus self-employment – all the trappings of the gig economy.

“It is no wonder income tax revenue is no longer living up to projections, given the race to the bottom in terms and conditions of employment.

“We insist that wages must now increase at least as fast as the real economy is growing. Fine Gael pretends to agree. It claims to have a target of €10.50 per hour for the national minimum wage.

“But over a year after they set that Programme for Government target, there is still no statutory guidance or direction to the Low Pay Commission about when and how to reach it. This is leading to uncertainty both for businesses and for working people. This is leading to uncertainty both for businesses and for working people.

“Meanwhile, the Commission continues to do its job under its current statutory remit, announcing increases of 10 cent and 30 cent. These figures don’t just fall well short of anticipated average wage growth. At this rate it would take well over 10 years to reach the Government’s target.

“A real living wage would be at least €11.70 per hour – 60% of median earnings. We would immediately change the mandate of the Low Pay Commission to reach this target by 2021.

“Meanwhile, the Government as an employer must lead by example. The living wage of €11.70 per hour should be fixed right now as the base salary point across the public service. This would cost €3.8m in the civil service and €31.6m across the wider public sector.

“Our proposals for the childcare sector would fund childcare providers to increase minimum pay to at least the living wage during 2018, at a cost of €62.6m.

“Finally, to propose tax cuts that would benefit the wealthy, while allowing welfare payments be eroded by inflation, is grotesque.

We have therefore allowed for an investment of over €200m to make sure that all welfare payments keep pace with inflation. There should be no divisions between ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ welfare recipients – all payments must be protected from erosion by inflation.

“Given the significant strides that have been made in reducing youth unemployment, we have also allowed for restoration of full weekly payments to those under 26.”


Notes to Editors:

Labour’s Alternative Budget can be found here

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