Workers can’t wait for a living wage says Sherlock

14 June 2022

Government pushing Living Wage commitment beyond lifetime of its term in office is unacceptable

Labour employment and workers’ rights spokesperson, Marie Sherlock has today (Tuesday, 14th June) sharply criticised Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar over meek proposals to introduce a Living Wage in Ireland on a phased basis by 2026.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The Tánaiste says he is targeting 60% of median earnings by 2026 to pay workers a living wage. This doesn’t go anywhere near fast enough. The Government is showing a profound lack of understanding on the urgency surrounding the cost of living crisis. This is reflected in the unacceptable postponement of the living wage legislation beyond the lifetime of this government.

“It is farcical to believe that workers can’t wait four long years for a living wage. Workers need a pay rise now.  This is again a case of Fine Gael going half the road with everyone and pleasing nobody. We have heard nothing today on any immediate measures to help the one in five low paid workers deal with the frightening and spiralling cost of living.

“The Labour Party is firmly on record demanding that the National Minimum Wage (NMW) be increased by a minimum of €1 to €11.50 as a matter of urgency. This 9.5% increase is vital if workers reliant on the national minimum wage are to be helped withstand the enormous increase in fuel and energy inflation plus the large rise in private rent inflation. A further €1 increase in 2023 would take it to €12.50, and then a further €1 increase in 2024 would bring it to €13.50 in comparison to the existing Living Wage rate of €12.90. That is Labour Party policy. It is fair, it is sustainable, and it makes economic sense.

“The Tánaiste says he wants better terms and conditions to be a lasting legacy of the pandemic. The reality is that all of his “workers’ rights bills” have so far fallen well short of the mark and 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 out of pocket. The flexible work legislation essentially offers employers a right to refuse flexible work options and these meek proposals on the living wage are no different.

“Last month, Labour published legislation to provide a real 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 without delay.”

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