FG threat to delay minimum wage hike a kick in the teeth for low paid workers
Responding to reports that the planned National Minimum Wage increase to €10.10 is to be deferred to March, Labour Party Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Ged Nash, has accused Fine Gael of giving those on low incomes a gratuitous kick in the teeth ahead of Tuesday’s Budget.
Senator Nash said:
“Fine Gael are hiding behind the veneer of Brexit when it comes to talk of delaying the introduction of the increase to the National Minimum Wage. The stark reality is workers on low incomes cannot wait until March for an increase.
“Rents are rising and the ESRI has predicted a rise in rates of between 2.1-3.1%, increasing the cost of living between €892-1360.
“It is pretty shameful that Fine Gael, the party who sloganise that they represent those who get up early in the morning, are thinking of leaving it until March to bring in this modest increase for Ireland’s lowest paid workers.
“Fine Gael’s Brexit argument is flimsy at best, and owes more to blinkered dogma than evidence. Research shows that modest and incremental rises to minimum wages has little or no negative effect on job churn, creation and retention. At the very time we need more money circulating in the economy to buy goods and services, it is puzzling that Fine Gael want to see the exact opposite done.
“No serious political party worth its salt has considered this budget without factoring in the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
“In our alternative Budget launched last Thursday, we set out the costed measures we would take to protect jobs and businesses in the event of a crash-out by the UK.
“Instead of asking low paid workers to take a hit in their modest pay packets, we have proposed financial supports to employers that may have to implement short-time working schemes to preserve jobs, as well as emergency loans and relief payments.
“This would be paid for with €1billion from cash balances with an additional €2 billion available (on standby) from the Irish Strategic Investment Fund.
“This is how we support companies through difficult times, not by stalling small pay rises proposed by the experts in the Low Pay Commission for underpaid workers.
“Likewise, pensioners and welfare recipients will also be negatively affected by price rises on food and other everyday goods; yet the Government has mooted that it will not raise all welfare payments. In contrast, Labour would increase all welfare payments by €5 per week, thus helping to cushion the blow of Brexit for the most vulnerable in society.
“We’re now in the dying days of this Government, and they are nowhere near fulfilling their programme commitment to introduce a minimum wage of €10.50 per hour.
“Their behaviour towards those on lower incomes and their National Minimum Wage delaying tactics are shameful, as evidenced by their pre-budget briefings to the media.”