Wednesday 26 November 2014

Why you'll need to earn at least €23k a year to have a living wage

Published 04/07/2014 | 02:30

PEOPLE in Ireland need to earn €23,000 a year to have a minimum acceptable standard of living, according to new research.

Anti-poverty campaigners said that the basic "living wage" needed to meet normal living expenses for a single person is €11.45 an hour or €446 per week and they will lobby employers to meet this target.

The figure was calculated based on a detailed appraisal of the cost of 2,000 expenses typically faced by households including rent, food, energy, transport, clothing and services.

It was calculated by a Living Wage Technical Group with experts from the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice, trade unions and other groups and will be updated annually.

They want this level of salary to be extended to low-paid workers following the example of similar movements in Britain, the US and other countries where some employers have committed to paying workers "living wage" rates above national minimum wage rates.

Acceptable

The rate is 32pc higher than the minimum wage in Ireland which is set at €8.65 an hour.

Bernadette McMahon, of VPSJ, said they wanted to provide evidence-based research of the cost of a socially acceptable standard of living.

This new benchmark of the cost of living is important as new research has shown one in six adults in poverty has a job, said Dr Sean Healy, director of Social Justice Ireland.

"It is time Ireland recognised this reality and moved to ensure that every adult with a job earns at least the equivalent of a living wage," he said.

This week, Nestle in Britain became the first major manufacturer there to pledge to pay a "living wage" around 20pc higher than the UK minimum wage to all employees.

Dr Nat O'Connor, of the think-tank TASC, said a living wage would be an important step in tackling economic inequality in Ireland.

"There is a growing split in Ireland between those with good jobs and those in insecure part-time or low-paid employment," he said.

SIPTU said it will seek to implement these wage rates for low-paid workers through its work on joint labour committees.

The Living Wage research found that the after-tax cost of living under its criteria varied from €410 a week in Dublin to €348 in other cities, with housing costs significantly higher in Dublin but transport more expensive in rural areas where a car is necessary.

"However, we felt that Ireland is too small to have two different living wage rates, as you then get into arguments about where does Dublin begin and end," said Robert Thornton, of VPSJ.

Irish Independent

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