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Low Pay Commission unnecessarily limited by government – Tóibín

14 July, 2015

Sinn Féin TD and Jobs Spokesperson Peadar Tóibín criticised Labour’s Business and Employment Minister Ged Nash for refusing to accept Sinn Féin amendments to extend the statutory remit of the Low Pay Commission to include low pay, the broader issues regarding income inequality, the introduction of a living wage, compliance and enforcement and shortfalls in innovation across some sectors of the economy.

The Meath West TD said:

“Sinn Féin submitted a number of amendments to the National Minimum Wage (Low Pay Commission) Bill that I believe would enhance the work of the Commission providing members with an ambitious statutory remit and ensuring lessons are learnt from the British experience. As constructed, the Commission’s work will be unnecessarily limited merely to primarily focussing on the National Minimum Wage. 

“Low paid insecure work is now a feature of the employment market yet Labour and Fine Gael refused to take concrete actions to reverse this trend. Inequality has also deepened under this governments watch and the reality is inequality and low pay go hand in hand. 

“Our amendments argued that the macro-economic factors that the Commissions consideration must consider should be extended to include the wage share of national income, the role of wages as source of demand and also the damaging economic and social effect of high levels of low pay. 

“Ireland’s European and international human rights obligations to guarantee the right to just and favourable remuneration should underpin the work of the Commission, and on that basis its work should be extended beyond annual recommendation on the national minimum wage. 

“If high levels of low pay persist, tax revenue will be constrained and the ability of the state to invest in capital and infrastructure and public services will remain limited. 

“In effect, in-work social protection supports whilst vital for families to ensure they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their head, also act as a subsidy to businesses. We cannot ignore this reality. 

“We want to keep people in work, and the state must step in to support citizens. It is equally incumbent on the state to provide a mechanism to address wholesale use of low paid insecure contracts by companies, sometimes extremely profitable companies, in certain sectors in the economy.

“Sinn Féin also called on the Minister to extend the Commission’s area of consideration to innovation.  A recent report on tackling Low Pay in Britain noted the important role of the Low Pay Commission in extending its analysis to the enterprise side of the pay equation, arguing that training and productivity, ambitious wage floors can provide an effective incentive for employers to move towards higher skill, higher wage business models.” 

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