Labour vows to increase minimum wage by 50c over next five years
Tánaiste Joan Burton has pledged that the Labour Party will increase the minimum wage by 50c every year, if re-elected back into Government.
Ms Burton's commitment follows revelations in yesterday's Irish Independent that Labour is planning to increase the national minimum wage to at least €11.30 per hour over the lifetime of the next government.
The Labour proposal to link the minimum wage to 60pc of the median wage, which is around €18.80, clashes with Fine Gael's plan to top up the salaries of low-paid working parents to ensure they are earning at least €11.75 per hour.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Ms Burton backed Labour's Business and Employment Minister Ged Nash, who severely criticised the Fine Gael election pledge.
Mr Nash said there is "no dignity" in topping up the salaries of low-paid workers and insisted the move will allow big business to continue to pay low wages. Ms Burton said Mr Nash was talking "horse sense" when he criticised the Coalition partner's plan to introduce a so-called 'working family payment'.
"Ged Nash is talking about €2 over four years in the lifetime of the next government - 50c per year," she said. You also need a wage-led recovery, and Fine Gael, their economics people, acknowledge that," she added.
The Tánaiste said if the Government is to deliver a "prosperous and thriving Ireland" it will mean workers will need "a decent level of wages and decent jobs with good terms and conditions".
"Because, if we're going to have a knowledge economy, we're aiming to ensure that everyone who wants a job is back at work. We're working very strongly towards that," she added.
Ms Burton said there was "no threat" from people earning a "decent wage". Labour is also pushing to have the 'living wage' of €11.50 applied for every public sector worker in an attempt to encourage business to follow the example of the Government. Ms Burton said she backs London's Tory mayor Boris Johnson on the issue.
"If you look at the City of London - and this is one of the few things, by the way, I have in common with Boris Johnson. We're both very strong supporters of the living wage," she said.