Campaigners call for ‘living wage’ of €11.45 an hour

Campaign groups say cost of housing, transport and other essentials means many on low wages are struggling

 Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton:  has pledged to establish an independent commission on low pay  to advise the Government on minimum wage levels  if elected Labour leader. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton: has pledged to establish an independent commission on low pay to advise the Government on minimum wage levels if elected Labour leader. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Fri, Jul 4, 2014, 01:01

A “living wage” of €11.45 an hour is needed to provide an acceptable minimum standard of living to employees, according to research by campaign groups.

The minimum wage in Ireland is set at €8.65 an hour. However, the cost of housing, transport and other essentials means many on low wages are struggling. Latest figures show one in six people living in poverty in Ireland has a job, a group often called the “working poor”.

At the launch of a campaign for a living wage yesterday, campaigners said increased pay was vital to bridge a growing divide between those with good jobs and those in insecure, part-time and low-paid work.

The €11.45 rate is based on a rate measured by a technical group which examined the price of a detailed basket of more than 2,000 items considered necessary for an acceptable standard of living. Among the members of the group are representatives from the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice, Social Justice Ireland, Nevin Economic Research Institute, Tasc and trade unions Siptu and Unite.

Minimum wage and basic living standards are likely to form the centre of political debate over the coming months, given differences between the Coalition partners.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has pledged to establish an independent commission on low pay – to advise the Government on minimum wage levels – if elected Labour leader.

However, some Fine Gael Ministers have expressed opposition to increasing the wage on the basis it could prove a barrier to job creation. The groups behind the new living wage insisted yesterday setting such a benchmark could prove to be a landmark development in social justice and common sense.