Sunday 22 April 2018

Scrap the minimum wage, says Superquinn founder

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

THE minimum wage should be scrapped to allow people to work for whatever they can get, the founder of Superquinn has argued.

Senator Feargal Quinn said he believed the current rate of €8.65 per hour, which is among the highest in the EU, is a hindrance to employment as it can deter firms from taking on staff.

Mr Quinn pointed to Germany, which has no national minimum wage, and said its unemployment level is very low.

"I've always argued that a number of jobs don't exist at certain wages, so we would have far more people working and willing to work if they were able to be paid a lower amount than the minimum amount," he said.

Some 20 countries in the EU have a national statutory minimum wage, with gross monthly totals ranging from €157 in Romania to €1,874 in Luxembourg. Ireland is fourth on the list at €1,462.

The German economic model has been cited as an example to countries looking to cut unemployment and boost competitiveness.

But without a national minimum wage barrier, pay can reportedly go well below €1 per hour, especially in the former communist eastern states.

Mr Quinn, who admitted his view was not a popular one, said that if the minimum wage was reduced, jobs would be created.

"I would argue that there shouldn't be a minimum wage at all, that people would be willing to work for whatever they could get. That's highly unlikely," he told the Irish Independent.

"I think it is a hindrance. I think the minimum wage as high as it is is certainly a deterrent to take on more people."

Mr Quinn had earlier addressed the Oireachtas jobs committee, which was hearing submissions from the Retail Grocery Dairy & Allied Trades Association (RGDATA)

It represents 4,000 family-owned grocery shops, convenience stores, forecourt stores and supermarkets across the country.

RGDATA, whose members had been governed by agreements under the Joint Labour Committees, argued that the national minimum wage system was the fairest way for determining the basic rate of pay.

The Government reversed a €1 cut to the minimum wage after it took office in 2011.

The late Brian Lenihan cut the minimum wage in 2010 when he was finance minister.

Mr Quinn founded Superquinn in 1960 and was its managing director for several years.

Irish Independent

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