Low Pay Commission formally recommends 10c rise in national minimum wage

Letter sent to Government after unions withdrew from the commission

About 340,000 staff across the public service are set to receive a two per cent pay rise in October.  Photograph:  iStock

About 340,000 staff across the public service are set to receive a two per cent pay rise in October. Photograph: iStock

 

The Low Pay Commission is understood to have formally recommended to the Government that the national minimum wage should be increased by 10c per hour.

It is understood that two employer representatives on the Commission urged that any increase in the minimum wage should not come into effect in the all sectors until the beginning of March of next year due to challenges being experienced at present.

It is understood that another employer representative on the Commission abstained on the recommendation in relation to an increase in the national minimum wage.

On Tuesday night, representatives of the trade union movement walked out of the Low Pay Commission in protest at proposals to recommend an increase of 10 cent per hour.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment said on Wednesday that the Government had received a recommendation in relation to the national minimum wage from the Low Pay Commission and that Ministers would make a decision on the issue by Budget Day next month.

“It is disappointing that there was not consensus on this occasion but it is a majority decision. It has been some years since a unanimous decision was reached.”

The spokeswoman for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment said Ireland had “one of the highest national minimum wages in the EU with increases exceeding inflation for many years now”.

“The Government has always accepted recommendations of the Low Pay Commission in the past. The Low Pay Commission has been a very constructive forum for arriving at fair minimum wage recommendations to date and it is expected to continue to deliver this function into the future.”

Cost of living

“It is noteworthy that the NGO (Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice) which calculates their ‘living wage’, recommended no increase this year as the cost of living has not gone up.”

On Tuesday night general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Patricia King said: “We could not in conscience be party to any recommendation that did not afford the lowest paid workers in the Republic of Ireland an increase in excess of two per cent similar to other sectors in our economy.”

About 340,000 staff across the public service are set to receive a two per cent pay rise in October.

Workers in the construction sector are scheduled to receive a 2.7 per cent pay increase in October also.

Ms King said it had become clear to her and the other trade union representative on the Low Pay Commission, Gerry Light of the Mandate union, “that other members of the Commission were not prepared to propose an increase for 2021 beyond one per cent ie 10 cent.

“If we have learned anything as a society in this pandemic it is that we must value work and those who carry it out. We must make work pay,” she said.

“Many of the workers on the minimum wage form part of the cadre of essential workers who have helped keep our economy going through this Covid-19 pandemic. It is therefore completely unacceptable that they and other workers who are the lowest paid in this state would not be afforded decency and fairness by receiving a modest minimum two per cent increase in the National Minimum Wage.”

She said the “lowest paid in our society suffered disproportionately during the last recession and we won’t be party to a process that leaves them behind”.

Employers

The employers’ group Ibec,said it was surprised and disappointed at the withdrawal of Patricia King and Gerry Light from their positions as employees’ representatives on the Low Pay Commission.

Ibec said: “The economy continues to face considerable challenges with the application of additional Covid related restrictions last week, with all the consequent impacts on retail, tourism and hospitality. Unemployment stands at 16.7 per cent and while the impact of Brexit remains unclear it is likely to further impact these vulnerable sectors next year. “

“Across the private sector there is little evidence of pay increases with many businesses where the national minimum wage is prevalent, availing of wage subsidy schemes and many others restructuring to survive. In the public sector, no commitment has been given to pay increases. Public sector adjustments this year reflect the final stage of pay restoration and were agreed in significantly different economic circumstances. “