5% Increase in recommended Living Wage reflects failure of Government to fix housing crisis

29 September 2021

Labour employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock said the 5% increase in the recommended Living Wage reflects the five wasted years of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil housing policy. Reiterating the need to ensure that work always pays, Senator Sherlock said government must stop kite flying about the future of work and introduce a living wage without delay.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The cost of living in this country is accelerating at rapid speed and wages are simply not keeping up. The recommendation of a 5% increase to the Living Wage reflects the cold, hard reality experienced by all workers, particularly those on low wages. This is arising because of repeated failures by Government to ensure the provision of affordable housing and accessible affordable public transport.

“A living income would ensure that workers have enough in their take home pay to enjoy a healthy and varied diet, comfortably pay their mortgage or rent, go on a holiday and socialise, the normal things that many workers are currently deprived of on a minimum wage. With rents out of control, property prices soaring and many potential first time buyers left desperate and despondent, today’s 5% increase should be a further catalyst for change at the Department for Housing.

“All employers must reflect today on whether they are paying their own workers a living income and whether it is sufficient to eek out a minimum standard of living or whether workers are being paid poverty wages. It is important that anyone who works, can work with the knowledge that they can budget to pay their rent, heat their home, and pay for groceries. Unfortunately we know that too many people are just getting by.

“The reality is that average weekly wages in the hospitality sector are almost 40% below the Living wage with average wages in arts, entertainment and leisure more than 11% under and this masks the fact that in both sectors there are very large numbers dependent on the national minimum wage.

“The pandemic has shown the true value of people’s work so we need to ensure that work always pays. We have a real problem with low pay in this country affecting nearly 1 in 4 workers who earn less than two-thirds of median hourly earnings. Too many families struggle, relying on supports such as the Working Family Payment to make ends meet. The government faces tough choices on budget day – I hope their decisions go to ease the pressure on workers due to the increased cost of living in Ireland today.

“In a fair society, everyone who works should be able to make ends meet, and have some savings left over. At the very least, their physical, psychological and social needs should be met by their earned income. Providing a Living Wage would ensure decent pay for every worker.”

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