300,000 workers earning below hourly Living Wage

unite white out of redJimmy Kelly warns that poverty pay is delaying economic recovery

July 6th: In its latest Economic Comment, trade union Unite today revealed that around 300,000 workers – or one in five – earn below the hourly Living Wage of €11.45 as calculated by the Living Wage Technical Group. Among those most affected by what Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly today described as ‘poverty pay’ are workers in the hospitality, administrative support and retail sectors, while nearly 20 per cent of construction workers also earn less than €11.45 per hour.

Commenting, Jimmy Kelly said:

“The Living Wage of €11.45 per hour launched last Thursday is an evidence-based figure derived from research into the expenditure required to have a minimum essential standard of living. Using CSO data, Unite has estimated that around 300,000 workers – or nearly one in five – earn below this hourly wage. And this figure does not include those workers who may earn more than €11.45 per hour, but are unable to work sufficient hours to earn the weekly Living Wage of €446. Nor does it take account of the expenditure needs of households of children, who would require a higher wage.

“The figures released by Unite today tally with the CSO finding that over 300,000 of those in work suffer multiple deprivation experiences.

“Ireland is in the throes of a low pay epidemic.

“Poverty pay undermines the living standards of the workers and families concerned – and it undermines the economy, dampening consumer demand and delaying the prospect of a sustainable wage-led recovery.

“That is why it is vital that the Living Wage become accepted as a new wage floor”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.


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