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Minimum wage will not be sacrificed on the altar of Brexit - Quinlivan

5 August, 2016 - by Maurice Quinlivan TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD has told IBEC that any moves to cut the minimum wage as part of Ireland's economic response to Brexit will not be tolerated.

The Limerick TD was responding to a statement from the employers’ organisation in which it called for "an intense ongoing focus on cost competitiveness in areas such as Labour costs, the minimum wage" as part of a wider national response to the strain on currency following the result of the referendum in Britain.

Deputy Quinlivan said;

"In the statement from IBEC, the reference to the minimum wage was tucked away toward the end. However, sticks out like a sore thumb.

"We you cut through the jargon and management-speak, IBEC is suggesting that potentially cutting the minimum wage should form part of the discussion in how this country's moves to alleviate the impact of Brexit on businesses.

"We cannot allow employers in this state to use Brexit as a Trojan horse to dismantle the safety net of the minimum wage and thereby reducing their responsibility to provide decent conditions for workers. More than 70,000 workers depend on a minimum wage. 

"It is already too low at a rate of €9.15 and the 10c increase proposed by the low pay commission is an insult to those workers.

"Given the crisis in the cost of living in this state, massively increasing insurance costs, exorbitant rents, the ever-expanding issue of under-employment, it disturbing that IBEC would see any case for examining the minimum wage in such a manner. The only revision to the minimum wage should only be upward.

"Most people with progressive outlook are in agreement that we should now be moving toward a 'living wage' as a benchmark for fairness and preventing poverty. This is a rate of €11.50 per hour. Given the increases propose by the commission, it would take nearly a quarter of a century to achieve that goal. And now we have IBEC proposing that the minimum wage should be up for discussion under the cloak of 'competitiveness'?

"A strong message needs to be sent to IBEC that the minimum wage will not be sacrificed on the alter of Brexit in order to ring-fence profits. I understand that the impact of Brexit on Irish business must be minimised and that the government needs to immediately work with all stakeholders to implement a strategy to achieve that goal.

"However, IBEC must also understand that ordinary workers must also be resolutely defended and protected from the fallout. Any move to push low pay workers into further economic strain and poverty will be rightly opposed and resisted."

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