Low-paid employment


Sir, – I was alarmed to read John FitzGerald’s assertion in his column “Minimum wage a tool for equality but no panacea for poverty” (Business, July 19th) that the rate of the national minimum wage was left unchanged when the last economic crisis hit.

This will come as news to the lowest paid workers in Ireland who in 2010 experienced a €1 cut to the basic statutory minimum hourly rate of pay, thanks to a decision made by the Fianna Fáil-Green Party government.

The claim made by the troika and the government at the time was that a cut to the minimum wage would help create jobs in a period of spiralling unemployment. It manifestly didn’t.

The minimum wage rate dropped from €8.65 to €7.65 per hour in 2010 but was quickly restored by the Labour Party when we took office in the spring of 2011.

The Low Pay Commission which the Labour Party set up on a statutory basis in 2015 has delivered four successive annual increases to the national minimum wage (using an evidence-based approach), with a fifth rise on the way in 2020.

It is extremely concerning that in excess of 20 per cent of all Irish workers are still in work that is (by accepted OECD measurements) low paid.

Four years on from its establishment, it is time that the Low Pay Commission’s mandate is changed to develop a road-map in law to obtain a real living wage for all workers, pegged at two-thirds of median hourly income. – Yours, etc,

Senator GED NASH,


Leinster House,

Dublin 2.