Ireland has the fifth highest monthly minimum wage in the EU at €1,462 before tax or social welfare payments and is the only country where it remained the same over the past four years.
But when adjusted for the cost of living in each country — purchasing power standards (pps) — the wage was worth 1,238 pps in January this year, up from 1,125 pps at the start of 2008 — an increase of 10%.
Ireland’s monthly minimum wage is less than half the sum paid to Irish workers generally based on the median — the figure halfway between the highest and the lowest pay. In half of the rest of the EU, the minimum is closer to the average.
The highest minimum monthly wage in the EU is in Luxembourg at €1,923 while the lowest is €184 in Bulgaria. Greece, refused by the troika to increase the minimum from €764 a month, saw the biggest drop of 14% in euro, and slightly less at 12% in pps.
The government succeeded in restoring the minimum hourly wage to €8.65 after the troika agreed it should be cut by €1.
A nine-strong panel of experts, including trade unionists, business chiefs and economists, is to issue its first report by mid-July on incremental changes to the minimum wage.
Jack O’Connor, president of Siptu, has called for an hourly rate of €11.45, but the suggestion has been dismissed by business bodies, including Ibec and Isme, which claim increases to the rate would cripple business and dent job creation.
Maeve McElwee, Ibec head of industrial relations, said there is no justification for an increase.
“An unwarranted rise at a time when unemployment remains unacceptably high would undermine job creation and threaten the viability of business still struggling to survive,” she said.
“The current national minimum wage remains high by international standards and the taxes applied to it are particularly low. The focus must be on job creation.”