Government bribes business to pay Minimum Wage increase. Where is the ambition to improve workers’ lives on a permanent basis?

10 October 2023
  • Diversion of much needed commercial rates for Local Government back to employers. Not yet clear if Government will reimburse Local Authorities.
  • No ambition to improve workers’ lives on a permanent basis
  • Low income workers have fared worst in the cost of living crisis

Labour spokesperson on Employment Affairs Senator Marie Sherlock has today described the Government’s plans to refund a portion of commercial rates to employers in return for paying the National Minimum Wage as a “bribe”.

Reacting to the Government’s 2024 announcement Senator Sherlock said:

“Government’s decision to refund commercial rates to employers who paid the National Minimum Wage is nothing more than a bribe. It does nothing to address the systemic and underlying problem of low wages in Ireland. Labour called for a €2 rise in the minimum wage as part of a package to supporting wages.

“This cut in commercial rates is coming out of much needed funding for Local Government. We note that funding to Local Government has only risen by 7% in the Budget and it is not clear central Government will reimburse for the rebate.

“Where is the ambition to improve workers’ lives on a permanent basis? The reality is that low income workers have fared worst in this cost of living crisis. Workers in services, the arts, and retail are among the least well paid in the Irish economy and have endured the biggest real wage cuts in 2022 and 2023. The Government has missed the opportunity in Budget 2024 to improve workers’ lives in real terms.

“Government’s focus on just getting through this cost of living crisis was short-sighted and people are surviving, not thriving. Government has a budget of over €17bn that it spends on public procurement each year, which it could use to support decent incomes, raise the wages of low paid work, and specifically reward collectively bargained earnings.

“Government’s focus on short-term measures to get through the cost of living crisis is not enough. She said that the Government needed to have a long-term plan to lift wages and improve livelihoods.

“Government’s Budget 2024 was a missed opportunity to improve workers’ lives. It has failed to show any real ambition to address the problem of low wages in Ireland.”

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