Trade unions call for speedier rollout of living wage in Ireland

Trade Unions Call For Speedier Rollout Of Living Wage In Ireland
Unions welcomed the plan to replace the current minimum wage of €10.50 per hour with a new living wage
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Vivienne Clarke

A trade union official has called for a swifter implementation of the new living wage announced by the Government on Tuesday.

Dr Laura Bambrick, head of social policy and employment affairs at the Irish Council of Trade Unions (ICTU), said she welcomed the plan to replace the current minimum wage of €10.50 per hour with a new living wage, to be phased in over four years from 2023.


However, there was concern that as prices rise the increase would be negated, she told Newstalk Breakfast.

“This is a hugely significant and positive move for hundreds of thousands of workers,” she added.

Trade unions had been founded two centuries ago to abolish low wages, the living wage would do that, said Dr Bambrick.

“This proposal isn’t a back of the envelope job. It comes after extensive research into the best way to transition from minimum wage to living wage. They looked at other countries. There’s nothing original here.”


Dr Bambrick pointed out that the Low Pay Commission had recommended the living wage be introduced within “no more than five years” and the Government had opted for a four-year transition.

The plan was similar to schemes already operating in other countries and was the result of extensive research. However, Germany had “thrown a spanner in the works” last week, she said, when they announced that they would be introducing a living wage increase within four months.

There needed to be an option to “speed up” the process at a time of crisis, she added.

When asked if the introduction of the living wage would lead to increased costs as employers passed on the increase, Dr Bambrick said that fewer than 140,000 – or seven per cent of the workforce – would benefit from the scheme. The reality was that the introduction of the living wage meant that people who worked a full week would now be able to pay their bills.

The challenge for Government was “finding that sweet spot” where there was a benefit for employers as well, she said.

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