‘You wouldn’t feed the pigeons' with the minimum wage: Cork TD calls for minimum wage to be increased to €15

The living wage — the minimum needed for a decent standard of living — was calculated at €12.90 an hour last September. 
‘You wouldn’t feed the pigeons' with the minimum wage: Cork TD calls for minimum wage to be increased to €15

The living wage — the minimum needed for a decent standard of living — was calculated at €12.90 an hour last September by a group of researchers, academics and social justice groups, known as the Living Wage Technical Group.

A CORK opposition TD has called for the national minimum wage to be increased to €15 an hour, stating that “you wouldn’t feed the pigeons” with the current rate of €10.50.

Socialist Party TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry made the comments while addressing Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil in recent days.

“I’ve heard you say that you’re bringing a proposal on the living wage to cabinet before summer. Very good. You wouldn’t feed the pigeons these days with the minimum wage, but to be clear, €12.90 - that figure was set before this inflation crisis — before rents started regularly topping €2,500 per month.

“What’s needed as an hourly wage just to survive, to live these days — I would say [is] €15 an hour,” Mr Barry said.

The living wage — the minimum needed for a decent standard of living — was calculated at €12.90 an hour last September by a group of researchers, academics and social justice groups, known as the Living Wage Technical Group.

Responding, Mr Varadkar affirmed the Government’s commitment to securing better wages and terms and conditions for people.

“We have the sixth highest minimum wage in the world, or in the western world anyway, based on purchasing power parity.

“We intend to improve on that through the move to a living wage, the introduction of auto-enrolment to ensure everyone who works in Ireland has access to an occupational pension in addition to the State pension and also the kind of laws I am bringing in at the moment, for example, statutory sick pay,” he continued.

However, the Tánaiste warned that pay rises will only go so far in mitigating against the spiralling cost of living.

“Pay rises can only be part of the solution because pay rises have to be funded.

“Employers who pay pay rises often fund those pay rises by increasing the prices they charge their customers for the goods and services they produce,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said the Government wants to avoid a situation like the one that existed in the 1970s “where people got substantial pay increases every year but it did not do them any good because prices went up by just as much”.

“That is why we need to look at the thing in the round.

“We must look at what we are going to do on welfare, pay, income taxes and the cost of things like childcare and education,” he said.

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