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Minimum wage €12.30 per hour; Leo Varadkar reiterates commitment to implementing living wage in Ireland

DUBLIN: Tanaiste Leo Varadkar reiterated the Government’s commitment to implement a living wage. The Fine Gael leader stated that he wants a living wage to be phased in during the present government’s tenure.

A living wage is not expected to take 10 years to implement, but the Government have to phase it in, Mr. Varadkar said. However, he said that it will definitely be implemented before 2025. “We would certainly want to have it phased in [by 2025], and we haven’t yet worked out how it’s going to be phased in. Initially, it could be voluntary, or you might give a phase-in period as to it where it may be done, and employers for example would declare whether or not they pay it,” he added.

The Tanaiste said a living wage is definitely not something that can be done overnight. “The most important workers’ right is the right to work, the right to a job, and we’re not going to do anything that we believe would result in people losing their jobs, or people seeing their hours cut, that would be totally counterproductive,” he said.  

Mr. Varadkar also highlighted the achievements of the Fine Gael governments over the past 10 years. “We saw a 25% increase in the minimum wage, seven increases in the past 10 years, so we’ve a good record on this – one that our opponents never give us credit for, but for people interested in the facts, that’s our record,” he said.

Varadkar wants better terms and conditions for all workers

The Tanaiste said the three main government policies are the introduction of legal sick pay, the move to living wages and automatic access to pension funds in addition to the state pension. He said that the Government aims to establish pension funds contributed by workers, employers and the State by 2023.

“It has been planned for a long time, it was stopped in the past because of the financial crisis. The pandemic probably delayed it, but we’re determined to have that up and running before the end of the term of this Government,” the Tanaiste said.

Nurses, doctors, paramedics, garda and other public sector workers with pensions are likely to earn more than the national average, but cleaners, drivers, food service workers, supermarkets, and retailers live in misery. “I want of one of the legacies, one of the dividends of this pandemic to be better terms and conditions for them,” the Fine Gael leader said.

A living wage is the minimum income necessary for employees to meet their basic needs. According to current estimates, a living wage in Ireland would be €12.30 per hour. The Low Pay Commission began working in April to figure out how to raise the current minimum pay from €10.20 per hour. 

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