Latest: Leo Varadkar defends 'pathetic' minimum wage increases

Update 9.11pm: The Taoiseach has defended the planned small increase to the minimum wage.

It is to go up 30 cent to €9.55 but one of his own Ministers has criticised this.

John Halligan thinks it is not enough, given the high cost of living in Ireland.

But Leo Varadkar said it is in line with recommendations from the Low Pay Commission.

"The minimum wage has increased by 25% in the last four or five years, much faster than the rate of inflation and much faster than the wage growth in general," said Varadkar.

"Provided the economy can sustain it, I think it will continue to grow in the years ahead," he added.

Earlier: The increase in the minimum wage next year will be eaten up by rises in rent according to Social Justice Ireland.

The body has reacted to Minister John Halligan's statement that the increase from 9.25 to 9.55 an hour is "pathetic".

The Taoiseach has said that any hike in the lowest rate of pay must be sustainable.

However Michelle Murphy, Research and Policy Analyst at Social Justice Ireland said politicians need to take the cost of living into account.

"You have to look are the pressures and what's increasing the cost of living," said Ms Murphy.

The biggest cost for a single person is housing and the biggest costs for a family is housing and childcare and the increase that the Low Pay Commission recommended will be eaten up next year, for a single person, by the increases in rent," she added.

Earlier: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that the minimum wage has to be increased in a sustainable way.

It follows criticism from Junior Minister John Halligan that the 30 cent increase is “pathetic”.

“One thing we always have to bear in mind when it comes to wages is that we have to bear in mind the impact on employment,” he said.

“And if you increase wages too quickly, there is a risk that we could lose jobs, and that would be a terrible result – that’s why we rely on the advice of the Low Pay Commission to ensure that we increase wages, and the minimum wage in particular, in a way that’s sustainable, so that it doesn’t get taken away again.”

Labour Party spokesperson on Employment and Social Protection, Senator Ged Nash has said that Independent Alliance Minister John Halligan has made another 'empty promise' on the living wage.

Senator Nash said: "It is time John Halligan started to behave like a Minister and deliver on the things he tells the media he believes in.”

He added: "Nothing we have seen to date from the Independent Alliance will give the low paid any real hope that the scourge of low pay, uncertain hours and insecurity will be tackled in any meaningful way by this government.

"The chocolate teapots in the Independent Alliance and John Halligan especially have been indulged for long enough, and here we have another empty promise from them on people’s livelihoods.”

Earlier:

A Minister of State has described plans to increase the minimum wage by 30 cent as "pathetic".

John Halligan says the plans to up the rate from €9.25 to €9.55 per hour don't go far enough.

It comes as the Taoiseach raised eyebrows in a recent interview, when he include minimum wage workers - whose annual salary is under €20,000 - in his definition of 'middle class'.

Minister Halligan said it is disheartening, given the high cost of living in Ireland.

"It's disappointing when you look at the cost of living, you look at the cost of housing, the cost of renting," he said.

"We have to protect those who are most vulnerable, and the people who are most vulnerable are people who don't have work, and then people earning a minimum wage."


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