Proposed 10 cent minimum wage increase an insult, says SF TD

Maurice Quinlivan questions amount paid to chairman of Low Pay Commission

Sinn Féin spokesman Maurice Quinlivan said more than 70,000 people in the State depended on the minumum wage. Photgraph: Aidan Crawley

Sinn Féin spokesman Maurice Quinlivan said more than 70,000 people in the State depended on the minumum wage. Photgraph: Aidan Crawley

 

The Low Pay Commission was independent of the Government, Minister of State for Jobs Pat Breen told the Dáil.

“I want to make it very clear that I cannot speak for the commission and I stress the value of its independence,’’ he said.

Mr Breen was replying to Sinn Féin spokesman Maurice Quinlivan, who criticised the 10 cent an hour increase in the minimum wage recommended by the commission.

Mr Quinlivan said the Government, in its summer economic statement, had given a commitment to increase the wage to €10.50 per hour over a five-year period.

“How does one get from the current minimum wage rate of €9.15 per hour to €10.50 over five years with a 10 cent increase ?,’’ he added. “The answer is that it is impossible to do that.’’

He said if the Government was going to set the rate, there was no need for a commission.

Mr Quinlivan said the recommendation was an insult to workers.

More than 70,000 people in the State depended on the wage, he added.

Mr Breen said the commission took on board a wide range of considerations in making decisions, which were not made lightly.

It looked at all the areas of concern for the employers and employees, he added.

“The commission’s role is to ensure the wage is appropriate and is one employers and employees can sustain, which is extremely important,’’ he added.

Mr Quinlivan said commission chairman Donal de Buitléir earned €22,493 from 2015 to the first quarter of this year, attending 22 meetings. This worked out at approximately €1,000 per meeting.

“Surely to God, if there was ever an example of gross hypocrisy, this is it,’’ he added.

Mr Breen said the commission was made up of nine members and he respected Dr de Buitléir, an eminent academic, who had done great work down the years.

He added the aim of the minimum wage was to have an incentive to work.