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SIPTU’s call for €11.45 hourly living wage is most welcome

Social Justice Ireland strongly endorses the call by Ireland’s largest trade union to “battle” for low-paid vulnerable workers by seeking acceptance by employers of a living wage of €11.45 an hour.

Speaking at a ceremony in Glasnevin cemetery on January 31, SIPTU’s General President Jack O’Connor said the union will engage in a “new battle to establish a minimum living wage of €11.45 per hour across all those sectors of the economy where the gross exploitation of vulnerable workers is the order of the day.”

Research by the Living Wage Technical Group, set up in March 2014, calculated that an €11.45 hourly salary was a minimum ‘income floor’ below which employees could not afford basic essentials or live with dignity. Social Justice Ireland is a member of the Technical Group. See here for our comment on the Technical Group’s findings.

The current minimum wage is €8.65 per hour for full-time, part-time, casual and temporary employees, as set down in law.
CSO statistics, released in January, confirm that a growing percentage of Ireland’s 1.8m employed population in 2013 were in fact the ‘working poor’:

  • Over 90,000 people with jobs were ‘at risk of poverty’.
  • Nearly 350,000 employed people were in “enforced deprivation”, that is, deprived of at least two basic essentials such as a warm winter coat or adequate heating.

The CSO figures are proof – if any was needed – that the €8.65 minimum wage fails to protect employees and their families from poverty.  It is also important to realise that wages must also be supported by modern social services (health and education) and good infrastructure (transport and social housing).

Social Justice Ireland backs SIPTU’s call and urges the Government to introduce a living wage set at €11.45 an hour.

Note:

  • The poverty figures cited above are from the Central Statistics Office’s (CSO) Annual Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC), 2013.
  • The CSO study defines consistent poverty as individuals who are identified as being at risk of poverty and living in a household that is deprived of a number of basic items, such as warm new clothes or adequate heating.