Jump in Living Wage must be wake up call to Government on cost of living crisis for the low paid

27 September 2023
  • Budget 2024 must have a range of targeted measures for low paid workers
  • Eviction ban must be reinstated
  • Health, community and childcare workers must have pay addressed

Labour spokesperson on workers’ rights Marie Sherlock said the time for delaying on workers’ pay is over.

As the Living Wage Technical Group announces that the Living Wage, the amount needed to meet the basics like heat, light and housing costs, has risen to €14.80, Senator Sherlock slammed Government inaction for low paid workers.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The new Living Wage of €14.80 per hour demonstrates a drastic rise in the cost of living and is a clear sign that Ireland is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many people.

“I am calling on Government to respond to the rising inflation crisis for low paid workers in Budget 2024 with a targeted package of measures aimed at supporting low to include:

  • An increase of at least €2 in the national minimum wage for 2024;
  • A radical expansion of eligibility for fuel allowance to include the low paid;
  • An immediate reinstatement of the eviction ban to ensure that no worker or their family faces into the devastatingly high rents that are the only option available to “movers” in the rental market;
  • Plus an immediate commitment to prioritising the public procurement budget of over €17bn on suppliers that pay collectively bargained living wage agreements.

“Most importantly, the Government must play a direct and crucial role in supporting the incomes of those providing services on behalf of the State – whether it is in section 39, section 56 or section 10 organisations, or in early years services.

“It is significant that just €13.65 is on the table for early years workers from employers and Government which falls far short of a Living Wage. It is disgraceful that this Government has, once again, forced workers in section 39 organisations, many of whom are barely paid the minimum wage, to go out on strike.

“Workers on the National Minimum Wage are already struggling to make ends meet. They are now earning €3.50 per hour or 24% less than the amount that they need to live a decent standard of life.

“The increase in the Living Wage reflects the toll that high energy prices are having and the nightmare that so many low paid workers face in the rental market. Indeed just yesterday, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) reported a huge spike in the number of households in arrears on their electricity and gas bills in the Spring of this year.

“Government can’t ignore the crisis of low pay in Ireland any longer. The reality is that despite the jump in the Living Wage, the proposed minimum wage increase for 2024 is still just €2.10 per hour based on full time hours – this falls far behind what an individual workers needs for a basic standard of living.

“Despite all the talk of labour shortages and wage increases, workers in almost every single sector of the Irish economy, bar two sectors, have suffered real wage cuts over the past year. The reality is that thousands of low wage workers in hospitality, in retail, in the arts and leisure sectors, childcare and elder care earn a premium barely above the national minimum wage but far below a Living Wage . The Government must respond with a comprehensive package to raise the wages of the lowest paid in the country.”

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