Minister highlights minimum wage and low-pay issue in leadership bid
JOAN Burton wants the rate of the minimum wage to be set by a new independent body.
In an interview with the Irish Independent following her entry into the Labour Party leadership race, Ms Burton said she wanted the establishment of a low-pay commission.
The prospect of wage rises being imposed on employers is likely to bring Labour into conflict with its Fine Gael coalition partners.
The Social Protection Minister is making the creation of such an independent body a big part of her leadership pitch.
Ms Burton said the body would study the appropriate rate for the minimum wage.
"I think we need to change the way at which we look at low pay in the economy because low pay is a really big issue for people going back to work and particularly for families with children.
"I am interested in establishing a low-pay commission as an independent body to advise the Government about, for instance, the national minimum wage and related matters.
"So you take the analysis of low pay, if you like, out of the political arena as, for example, interest rates are now set independently.
"Employers and unions would be included on the membership of the low-pay commission so that includes a constructive social dialogue. I think that is very good for social cohesion and it can examine more than the minimum wage. It can look at terms and conditions and things like zero-hour contracts," she said.
The minister rejected suggestions that employers would immediately baulk at such a body being set up.