New “super junior” will have to oversee key issues of low pay and collective bargaining

Increased wage rates likely to face opposition

Gerard (Ged) Nash:  will have to pilot the Government’s plans for collective bargaining reforms through the Oireachtas. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Gerard (Ged) Nash: will have to pilot the Government’s plans for collective bargaining reforms through the Oireachtas. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 01:01

The new “super junior” Minister Ged Nash will have responsibility for overseeing the Government’s plan for dealing with low pay as well as its moves to strengthen collective bargaining rights for workers – both key issues not only for the Labour Party and the trade unions but also for the business community.

The establishment of a low pay commission was one of the main new proposals put forward by the new Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton following her election.

She said yesterday that the commission would be put in place on a statutory basis as an independent body “to make annual recommendations to the Government about the appropriate level of the minimum wage and related matters”.

“By taking the politics out of low pay, we will ensure that there will be no more attacks on low-paid workers to suit short-term whims,” she said.

Putting more money into the pockets of the low paid will be a crucial issue for the Labour Party after five years of austerity.

The establishment of the commission comes just a week after the trade union movement and others put forward the idea of a “living wage” of €11.45 per hour.

However, any move to introduce higher minimum wage rates would more than likely face opposition in some sectors on the grounds of competitiveness.

The hotel sector is already challenging the decision of the Minister for Jobs and Enterprise on the re-introduction of joint labour committee to set minimum terms in the sector.

Separately Mr Nash will have to pilot the Government’s plans for collective bargaining reforms through the Oireachtas in the face of likely demands from some activists for him to go further.