Lowest-paid will be biggest winners from forthcoming round of private sector pay claims

unite-white-out-of-redMinimum wage workers set to benefit by 50 cent per hour in bid to tackle poverty pay

November 17th: Workers earning the Minimum Wage of €9.15 per hour – whose hourly pay will be increased by just 10c per hour from January – are set to benefit by five times as much, or 50 cent per hour, if private sector trade unions succeed in their 2017 pay claims.  A meeting of the ICTU Private Sector Committee earlier this week advised unions to seek pay increases of 4 per cent, and a minimum €1000, from January 2017.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Colm Quinlan, who sits on the Committee, said:

“Unite’s research has shown that the economic recovery is a myth for thousands of workers who earn less than their counterparts elsewhere in the EU.  Compared to our peer groups, Northern and Central European economies, Irish wages are 18 per cent below average.  Compared to other small open economies, Irish wages are 24 per cent below average.  At the same time, wage inequality is high and growing:  during the past five years, managers and professionals received an 11 per cent increase in weekly income, while white and blue-collar workers only experienced a 1 per cent increase.

“In the face of Ireland’s low pay crisis, the strategy being pursued by Unite and the trade union movement is aimed at disproportionately boosting the incomes of those at the bottom of the earnings pyramid, while ensuring that all private sector workers get to share in the economic recovery”.

Mr Quinlan continued:

“In the recent Budget, the Government confirmed that it would be increasing the Minimum Wage by just 10 cent per hour – an increase which would not buy a litre of milk per day.  Unite argued that the increase should be at least 50 cent, as part of a strategy to bring the Minimum Wage up to the Living Wage of €11.50 per hour.  The pay strategy which Unite and the trade union movement will be pursuing from next January can potentially benefit those on the Minimum Wage by more than 5 percent, or 50 cents extra per hour in their pay packets.  This would close the gap between the Minimum Wage and the Living Wage by 21 per cent.    That’s still not nearly enough to eradicate poverty pay, but it is a start.

“Unite is putting employers on notice that we will not only be looking for pay increases for our members, but also insisting that pay increases are applied consistently to all workers in the organisation involved.  Cherry-picking workers for pay increases based on a company’s own business priorities is not acceptable to our members or to the trade union movement”, Colm Quinlan concluded.

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