New higher minimum wage still ‘20% below living wage’

Social Justice Ireland says high numbers of people in employment living in poverty

Dr Sean Healy, director of Social Justice Ireland. Photograph: Eric Luke

Dr Sean Healy, director of Social Justice Ireland. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The national minimum wage does not allow people to live “what is considered a minimum socially acceptable standard of living in Ireland” and the planned increase in 2018 won’t change that, according to Social Justice Ireland.

Dr Sean Healy, director of Social Justice, an independent think tank and justice advocacy organisation, said it was “seriously concerned” about the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage.

The national minimum wage currently stands at €9.25 per hour and is expected to rise to €9.55. The Living Wage Technical Group raised what it considers the minimum hourly pay rate a worker needs to cover basic cost of living expenses from €11.50 to €11.70 in July.

“Even after the indicated increase in the minimum wage coming next year, it will still be about 20 per cent below the living wage, which is the amount required for a minimum socially acceptable standard of living in Ireland,” Dr Healy said.

“This leads to unusually high numbers of people in employment who are still living in poverty, and casts doubt on the assumption that job creation should be the central focus of Ireland’s poverty relief strategy.”

Eamon Murphy, economic and social analyst at Social Justice Ireland, said: “The CSO’s most recent data on minimum wage employment shows that about 10 per cent of employees are working for the minimum wage or less.

“This is about twice the level of previous estimates, and there are tens of thousands of others working for a rate above the minimum wage but below the living wage.”

Mr Murphy said the Government should set out a plan to close the gap between the national minimum wage and the living wage, “with a view to achieving parity between the two”.