‘Urgent need to raise’ low Irish pay rate

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Three hundred thousand Irish people are earning less than the official minimum living wage needed to cover the most basic household expenditure, according to social justice and trade union think tanks.

The official hourly wage to cover essential living standards in Ireland is €11.45 an hour, €2.80 more than Ireland’s current national minimum wage. It means that Ireland’s current minimum wage needs to be increased by 32 per cent in order to fulfil the living wage calculations.

The Living Wage Technical Group released their figures last week in accordance with research from national unions, charities and research bodies, and intends to update their findings annually.

However, the Irish Government have not altered their legal national wage for seven years, and even decreased it in 2011 by €1 before the reduction was later reversed.

Dr Sean Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland said: “One in every adults living in poverty in Ireland has a job.

“It is time Ireland recognised this reality and moved to ensure that every working adult with a job earns at least the equivalent of a living wage.”

TASC – the think-tank for action on social change – have welcomed the launch of the living wage as an important step in addressing the problem of low pay and economic inequality in Ireland.

Dr Nat O’Connor, Director of TASC said: “In common with countries around the world, promoting a Living Wage is an important step in tackling economic inequality in Ireland.

“Full-time employment is an important response to economic inequality, but there is a growing split in Ireland between those with good jobs and those in insecure, part-time or low paid employment.

“The calculation of a Living Wage is an evidence-based reminder of what constitutes a decent level of pay. It is also a reminder that part-time or low paid work can perpetuate inequality.”

Trade union UNITE used Central Statistics Office data to conclude that the estimation that one in five people are working for under the living wage may even be an underrated.

The living wage rounded up over seven days means that someone working a 40-hour week would earn €446, but many people who earn above an €11.45 hourly rate are not getting enough hours to earn a sufficient weekly wage.

At the moment, those working on the national minimum wage in Ireland would bring home €329.12 per week after tax, or earn a gross salary of €17,992.

The minimum wage of €8.65 however, does not apply for inexperienced workers or those in apprenticeships whose legal hourly wage can drop to as low as €6.06.

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