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Morgan slams FÁS attack on minimum wage

20 December, 2007

Sinn Féin Workers' Rights Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has criticised a call by FÁS to re-look at the minimum wage with a view to reducing it to enhance competitiveness saying the comments would cause huge concern to those earning the minimum wage. Deputy Morgan said Ireland's competitiveness could not be based on low wages.

Deputy Morgan said today, "I am quite surprised to hear FAS challenging the minimum wage and the practice of increasingly in line with the growth in average wages and the cost of living. At present the minimum wage is below the benchmark of 60% of Gross Average Industrial Earnings envisaged when it was first introduced.

"These comments from FÁS will cause huge concern, particularly at this time of the year, to the thousands of workers who struggle in low paid employment faced with rising costs of living. While this state has one of the highest minimum wage rates in Europe the cost of living in this state and the price of housing and childcare are also amongst the highest. This has to be the biggest factor taken into consideration when setting the minimum wage rate. As the downward pressures on wages continues, including through the use of temporary agency workers at inferior pay and conditions, a strong minimum wage is more necessary than ever.

"Ireland's competitiveness cannot be based on low wages. In fact one of Ireland's most attractive assets is our skilled workforce. FÁS should be focusing on what needs to be done to improve the skills of those in low paid employment and those in vulnerable sectors of the economy so that they can access better quality better paid employment. This is the role they should stick with." ENDS

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