Labour calls for government support for Living Wage Bill

Ivana Bacik TD
27 May 2022
  • Ireland needs an immediate and significant pay rise

Labour leader Ivana Bacik has encouraged government to support Labour’s Living Wage Bill published earlier this month, rather than delaying the delivery of a pay rise for working people by publishing a separate government bill.

With one survey suggesting that 62% of people plan to cut food spending as the cost of living rises, Deputy Bacik said people need a pay rise now. Labour’s legislation would deliver this if government had the will to act on it.

Deputy Bacik said:

“The Tánaiste has form in publishing workers’ rights legislation to tick a box and give the appearance of acting on the programme for government. With the cost of the basics like childcare, food and heating soaring to a 22 year high, people simply can’t wait for government to act. Earlier this month, Labour published legislation to provide a pathway to transform the national minimum wage into a living wage and ensure more money in people’s pockets.

“Rather than drawing up and publishing a separate piece of legislation, Labour is calling on the Tánaiste to expedite the process by fast tracking the ready-made Labour legislation.

“A living wage provides for needs, not wants, and is defined as the hourly rate of pay that makes possible a minimum acceptable standard of living; it is evidence based, and grounded in social consensus. During Covid lockdowns, the Tánaiste repeatedly reminded us that we are all in this together. Yet now that people are experiencing true economic hardship, he appears to have forgotten the importance of the spirit of ‘meitheal’.

“Ireland needs an immediate and significant pay rise. This was true even before we began experiencing the runaway inflation we are now seeing. In 2018, one in five workers were categorised as low paid, earning just below €11.90 per hour. This means that about 380,000 people are earning less than what is deemed as ‘living’ earnings.

“Our Bill would transform the low pay commission into a living wage commission. The Bill provides a definition of a living wage, meaning an annual wage that, in the opinion of the commission, if paid to a single adult person living alone and in full-time employment, would afford that person a standard of living that meets the person’s needs at a minimum but socially acceptable level.

“Thus far, the Tánaiste’s workers’ rights bills have not reflected the reality of work in Ireland in 2022. Government’s sick pay bill published in March of this year, two years after the pandemic landed on our shores, would leave low paid workers short changed. The flexible work legislation essentially offers employers a right to refuse requests of same. We in the labour movement know that every victory for workers’ rights has to be hard won, and we will continue to push government to do the right thing for working people.

“Change can’t wait. We need to make Ireland a fairer place and start giving people a chance to catch up with the increased cost of living. Incomes are simply not going far enough to cover the basics. We welcome the Tánaiste’s belated attention to the Living Wage, and we would encourage him to fast-track Labour’s bill to give Ireland a pay rise, starting with those on the minimum wage.”

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