Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor denies minimum wage decision

Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor has denied reports she and the Government have abandoned plans to raise the minimum wage to €10.50 by 2021.

It was suggested that the Government has abandoned its pledge to raise the minimum wage because of a row with the newly established Low Pay Commission over its independence. It has emerged that Donal de Buitleir, chairman of the LPC, wrote to the minister saying the Government’s commitment to increase the minimum wage was in conflict with its independent mandate. Mr de Buitleir informed Ms Mitchell O’Connor that he was suspending the LPC’s evidence gathering work until its independence was guaranteed.

Ms Mitchell O’Connor has since given that clarity of independence but, through a spokesman, yesterday said the commitment remains, but it would be inappropriate for her or junior minister Pat Breen to interfere in the work of the Commission.

“The Programme for Government commitment on the minimum wage is government policy (it’s out to 2020). The Low Pay Commission was established with a remit to act independently of Government,” a spokesman said.

“They sought assurance from the Minister that they continued to have an independent remit and the Minister assured them that they do,” the spokesman added.

Labour Senator Ged Nash, who oversaw the establishment of the Commission when he was a super-junior minister in the previous Fine Gael-Labour Government, said the commitment to increase the minimum wage now “lies in tatters”.

He was speaking after the commission recommended just a 10c increase in the minimum wage from €9.15 last month and said the Government looks set to abandon its pledge.


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