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Raising minimum pay is counterproductive

The news that the minimum wage is to be increased will come as a relief across eastern Europe, most especially among skilled, trained, educated and experienced workers who would earn less than €2 an hour in their own countries and who will be highly motivated by the Irish minimum wage.

Irish employers faced with a choice between such workers and the callow products of an education system that places more emphasis on religion and Irish than on maths and science will continue to have an easy choice.

Some leaders seem to think that the problems of Irish poverty can be solved by an inflated minimum wage. If they are right, why not double it?

They need to think again. The minimum wage should not be thought of as a wage that is designed to support a married couple and all their children.

It should be designed for workers in "entry-level" jobs who have little or no skills, education, training or even language ability; how else are they to get an opportunity to get started in their working lives?

An inflated minimum wage means that they will get no start at all, as their work will be done by more productive immigrants doing work that they are often overqualified for, or by employers investing in automation instead.

Indeed, in many cases it is not worthwhile for potential employers to either start a business or to stay in business at all, due to the high costs involved.

An inflated minimum wage is not in the best interests of workers or anybody else.

The problem of poverty is real, but the way to deal with it is to increase the productive capability of lower-paid workers rather than forcing poverty-related issues on to the shoulders of employers.

Dublin 16

Irish Independent