Decision to block Minimum Wage increase should be reversed

15 October 2019

Labour spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Social Protection Sen. Ged Nash has called on the Government to reverse their decision to block an increase in the minimum wage and proceed with a 30 cent increase in January, and said there is already provision in the law for employers to defer an increase if there is an inability to pay.

Sen. Nash said:

“The report of the Low Pay Commission is clear in its recommendation that the minimum wage should increase by 30 cent an hour to €10.10. It notes that this assumes an orderly exit by the UK from the EU. The majority report does not say the increase should be delayed. Rather it says the decision may need to be reviewed in the event of ‘hard’ Brexit.

“I am deeply surprised that the Government has sided instead with the recommendations from a minority report by three employer representatives rather than that of the majority and appear to have delayed indefinitely the increase.

“There is already a provision in law that allows employers to apply to the Labour Court for an exemption if there is an inability to pay with the consent of employees.

“Inflation in 2020 is projected at 1.5% before the impact of a no deal Brexit. The ESRI has shown that the budget hits those on low pay and social welfare the hardest. FF and FG have delivered a regressive budget that will leave people poorer and withheld a pay increase from the lowest paid. In the event of a no deal, the cost of living is expected to increase further.

“We know from extensive research that minimum wage increases don’t have an impact on employment figures so Fine Gael seem to be protecting those with most at the expense of those who earn the least.

“What the Government decision does is protect those that can afford to pay the increase. Social progress should not be stalled because of Brexit. We should be prepared to implement the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission. It was established for a key reason to depoliticise the need for regular increases in the minimum wage. It is an indictment of Fine Gael that they have now chosen to undermine the Commission.”

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