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Sinn Féin spokesperson questions the function of the Low Pay Commission – Cullinane

15 April, 2015 - by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin’s Workers Rights spokesperson David Cullinane has questioned the function of the Government’s Low Pay Commission.  Senator Cullinane will launch a document next week calling for decent work for a living wage, highlighting the precarious situation zero and low hour contracts impose on workers.

Speaking at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to which Dr Donal de Buitléir, Chairman Designate of the Low Pay Commission, made a formal presentation, Senator Cullinane said:

“The remit of the Low Pay Commission is to advise the Government annually on the rate of the national minimum wage. However, the fact of the matter is we already have a mountain of official data from the CSO, the ESRI, Eurostat, the OECD, and others on the prevalence of low pay across the labour market.

“The link between low pay and poverty has been extensively researched. We have a very clear understanding of the negative impact of low pay on households, the economy, and on society in general.

“If the Government really wanted to deal with the issue of in-work poverty and low pay, they could do so themselves.  

“At today’s meeting I asked Dr de Buitléir if he could define low pay and he was unable to do so. I also asked him if any of the members of the Low Pay Commission were themselves low paid workers and his response was no, they were not.

“We must seriously question the function of such a Commission. I have no doubt the government will use it to deflect questions around low pay and workers rights from the political arena, but issues of poverty, workers rights, and pay belong in the political arena. 

“They are about what type of society we want – whether we want a society based on decent work and decent pay or one built on exploitation and low pay. That is why my new policy document will outline the economic impact of zero and low hour contracts and how we must improve the legislative framework surrounding workers’ rights and collective bargaining.

“A Low Pay Commission made up of well-paid unelected bureaucrats and experts should not have the power to decide if struggling workers get a one euro pay rise in a given year. There must be clear guidelines allowing for workers to have security and assurance of decent work for decent pay.

“This is the work of government - the onus is on the political system to create a fair, equal and decent society.”  

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