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Meagre 50 cent increase for workers on poverty wages is a disgrace - Cullinane

22 July, 2015 - by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin Senator and Workers’ Rights Spokesperson David Cullinane has called on the government to reject the recommendation of the Low Pay Commission.  Responding to the Commission’s Report recommending a 50 cent increase in the minimum wage, Senator Cullinane said:

“I have always had serious misgivings about the establishment of a Low Pay Commission and these have now come to pass.

“It is extraordinary that a Commission made up of extremely well paid people and that doesn’t include a single worker on the minimum wage of €8.65 an hour has the audacity to recommend a meagre 50 cent increase.  

“Even more alarming is Richard Bruton’s statement that the government’s aim ‘is to improve living standards for families and communities and the Low Pay Commission - a non-political Commission is best suited to this task’.

 “In-work poverty and exploitation of workers are political issues and should be dealt with in the political arena – they are the responsibility of the government, Labour and Fine Gael.

“Moreover the hypocrisy of Enda Kenny who himself earns a huge salary to say that ‘work should pay more than welfare’ and then to welcome an increase of 50 cents for low-paid workers is staggering.

“Sinn Féin supports the Minority Statements of two Low Pay Commissioners, Patricia King and Gerry Light, who disagree with the Commission’s recommendation.

“They argue €8.65 per hour falls far short of what a worker requires to meet their basic needs and note that since the first minimum wage in 2000, a floor rate was struck based on a Single Adult working 39 hours per week and that attempts to reconstruct this model and advocate a revised rate based on part-time hours is unacceptable.

“King and Light also point out that a Commission set up to advise the government on the National Minimum Wage Act (2000), suggested the rate be set at ‘two thirds of median earnings’.

“The Nevin Institute has calculated such a rate as €16.62 in 2013, which if applied as a formula to the hourly National Minimum Wage, would result in an hourly rate of €11.08.

 “Workers have sustained the Irish economy through good times and bad. A 50 cent increase for people earning poverty wages is both insulting and disgraceful.

“Joan Burton and the Labour Party should hang their heads in shame.  James Connolly must be spinning in his grave at how they have betrayed the working class for thirty pieces of silver and the lure of power.” 

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