Irish work more, pay more and earn less

unite-white-out-of-redIrish purchasing power 16 per cent below EU-15 average

Figures highlight need to move Minimum Wage towards Living Wage

March 26th: Irish workers put in more hours, pay more for good and services, and earn less than their European counterparts according to trade union Unite.  Commenting on recent CSO figures showing that Ireland has the third highest price levels in the EU, behind only Denmark and the UK, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said today (Sunday March 26th) that, when prices are factored in, Irish wages fall 16 per cent below the EU-15 average.  At the same time, Irish workers put in more hours on the job than other Europeans.

“We already know that private sector employee compensation is six per cent behind the average of the EU-15.   But wages are just one side of the living standards coin – prices are the other, and the consumer price figures published by the CSO this month show that Irish worker face the third highest price levels in the EU.  As a result, when prices are factored in Irish wages fall a staggering 16 per cent below the EU-15 average.

“The situation is even worse if we compare Ireland to other small open economies:  our nominal wages are 24 per cent below average, and 28 per cent below average when prices are factored in.

“In addition, the most recent available Eurostat figures show that Irish workers put in more hours than their Eurozone counterparts:  we work a full week-and-a-half per year more than the Eurozone average.

“We work more, pay more and earn less”, Mr Kelly stated.

“Addressing Ireland’s living standards crisis will require a three-pronged strategy:  strengthening workers’ rights, raising Employers’ PRSI to fund improved income supports and public services, and raising the wage floor for the low-paid.

“In the short term, this means significantly increasing the Minimum Wage as part of a strategy to increase it to the level of the Living Wage and ensure that those at the bottom of the income pyramid have a minimum acceptable standard of living”, Mr Kelly concluded.

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