News & Media

National Minimum Wage should be transformed into a living wage

3 July 2019

Statement by Senator Ged Nash
Spokesperson on Employment and Social Protection

Reacting to the Living Wage Ireland 2019 update, Labour Party spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Senator Ged Nash, has called on the Government to take calls to meaningfully increase the minimum wage in line with the cost of living seriously.

Senator Nash said:

“We know from national statistics that around 137,000 people – one in every 13 workers – was earning the minimum wage last year. Working a full-time 39-hour week for €9.80 implies a gross annual income of less than €20,000, or net take home pay of just over €18,000 for a single person.

“Many minimum wage workers are young, four out of five of them are working in the services sector, and women are disproportionately likely to be earning the minimum wage.

“Low pay is not just restricted to those on the minimum wage. More than one in four workers in Ireland are classified as being on ‘low pay’ – earning less than two-thirds of median pay – which implies net take home pay of just over €23,000 for a single person.

 “Today the Living Wage Technical Group has announced that the Living Wage should be set at €12.30 an hour in line with increases in housing costs.

"2019 should be the year that the government commits to working towards a real living wage.

“The work done in recent years by the Low Pay Commission has been valuable but it doesn’t go far enough. In order for a living wage to be reached, the government should change the remit of the Commission to give it the mandate to reach that target of a living wage.

"People on the minimum wage experience stress and precariousness in their finances as part of their everyday lives. This should not be an acceptable state of affairs for anyone who works for a living. Everyone deserves a decent wage for a day's work.

“Our national minimum wage should be a living wage. Especially if government continue in failing to regulate the rental market through rent controls which could substantially offset the cost of living.”