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Plans for all workers to get a living wage to be ramped up, Tanaiste signals

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Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said he is looking at how it might transform the Low Pay Commission into a Living Wage Commission. (Julien Behal/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said he is looking at how it might transform the Low Pay Commission into a Living Wage Commission. (Julien Behal/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said he is looking at how it might transform the Low Pay Commission into a Living Wage Commission. (Julien Behal/PA)

PLANS to ensure workers get a “living wage” are set to be ramped up, the Tanaiste has told the Dáil.

Leo Varadkar signalled today that he will push ahead with a programme for government commitment to ensure pay keeps pace with the cost of living.

A living wage commission is set to by rolled out by the government to replace the advisory body that sets the national minimum wage.

A living wage commission is set to by rolled out by the government to replace the advisory body that sets the national minimum wage.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Mr Varadkar said he is looking at how it might transform the Low Pay Commission into a Living Wage Commission.

The move will be seen as an olive branch to the union leadership.

Senior members of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions recently walked out of the Low Pay Commission when other members proposed a 10 cent hike in the national minimum wage.

Their proposal was later agreed by the commission and the minimum wage is set to rise to €10.20 an hour on January 1.

But the current rate recommended by social justice groups for the living wage is €11.50 an hour.

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“As the house may also be aware, the Programme for Government commits to introducing a living wage over the lifetime of the Government,” said Mr Varadkar.

“Of course, a living wage is different depending on how you define it. Great Britain and Northern Ireland have a living wage. But it is significantly lower than the national minimum wage is here. That’s not a model we would wish to follow.

“So I am looking at ways as to how we might transform the Low Pay Commission into a Living Wage Commission – a commission that would collect data, carry out research and advise us on fair wages in an independent and evidence-based way moving towards the living wage over the period of this government.”

“I would welcome any the submissions from any colleagues in the House on the matter.”

He said he wants workers and businesses to know “that as we face into more uncertain times, the Government is here for you and on your side”.

Responding to the Tanaiste’s remarks, Laura Bambrick of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said it was better late than never.

“The national minimum wage is dead, long live the living wage,” she tweeted. “The Irish Congress of Trade Unions had expected this announcement yesterday as the sugar to sweeten the bitter pill of government accepting the Low Pay Commission miserly 10 cent increase recommendation”.


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