Joan Burton: Lowest paid to get minimum wage hike

Tánaiste Joan Burton has said she expects the minimum wage to increase, giving hope to the low paid that their wages will go up this year.

The Labour leader also insisted there will be improvements in public sector pay.

Ms Burton’s comments on raising the hourly wage of €8.65 are her strongest yet and follow signals from Taoiseach Enda Kenny that the rate will go up.

The Coalition is setting up a Low Pay Commission, which will report back by July on whether the minimum rate should increase. Labour party sources point out there have been no wage increases since 2008, despite inflation, and employers are already beginning to sanction pay increases in some sectors. Mr Kenny has signalled that any increased cost for employers could be offset by a reduction in the amount of PRSI they must pay.

Speaking to RTÉ radio yesterday, Ms Burton said: “I favour some increases — and I’ve said this publicly now —in salaries and wages because I think it’s necessary for Ireland, I think it’s necessary for the wider eurozone. I do expect that there will be provision for some modest increases in the minimum wage.

“Our minimum wage is a good one, it’s about €8.65 an hour, but one of the difficulties we have as a country is that people only get a few hours’ work a week. That’s not enough for a sustainable family or a personal income.”

However, senior Fine Gael sources are nervous about hiking up the minimum wage, fearing it may hamper the creation of jobs.

Any final decision on the minimum rate will likely be made in time for the next budget, in October.

Meanwhile, Ms Burton has rubbished reports that the Coalition may set out a five-year tax strategy plan in its spring statement.

She also reiterated other Labour ministers’ comments that public sector workers were in line for wage hike.


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