Tánaiste Joan Burton to pledge living wage if Labour re-elected

State employees and those working for contractors employed by public bodies to qualify

All State employees as well as those working for contractors employed by public bodies will be paid the living wage if the Labour Party is returned to government, Tánaiste Joan Burton is expected to promise in a speech on Wednesday.

It is also anticipated that she will pledge to significantly raise the national minimum wage over the coming years.

The voluntary living wage – which campaigners have argued should be set at €11.50 per hour – is significantly higher than the national minimum wage, which will rise to €9.15 per hour in January.

Ms Burton is expected to say that if returned to office the Labour Party will set a target of bringing the national minimum wage up to 60 per cent of median wage by 2021.


This would imply a imply a minimum wage of €11.30 in 2015 prices .

In her speech the Tánaiste is expected to maintain that if returned to government the Labour Party will make sure the State and public bodies become living wage employers.

The two commitments to be set out in a speech at a Labour Party living wage event in Dublin are likely to feature in its election manifesto.

“This living wage commitment will extend not just to direct employees of the State, but also to ‘outsourced’ employees in the security, catering and cleaning sectors. And we will harness the power of public procurement to extend the living wage into the broader economy.

“As the largest direct and indirect employer in this country, I believe our Government must lead by example. Our intention to sign the State up to the living wage is a very real and practical expression of that.

Welfare support

She is expected to say that a living wage “means that a person in full-time work, without additional welfare support, can afford housing, food, utilities, clothing, transport, health care, childcare and recreation”.

Ms Burton is also expected to maintain that the Labour Party in government would “ harness the national minimum wage to move the wider economy in the same direction”.

"We will continue to improve the minimum wage, to assist as many low-paid workers as practicable, in a way that is both fair and sustainable. We will task the Low Pay Commission to work, over the next five years, towards raising the minimum wage to 60 per cent of the national median.

“Adjustments will be made carefully and incrementally, as economic circumstances allow, so as to avoid adverse consequences for employment and competitiveness.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent