The Restaurants Association of Ireland said there was “disbelief” among its members at suggestions that the minimum wage, set at €8.65 per hour, should be increased.
In its submission to the Low Pay Commission, the RAI said Ireland has the fifth-highest minimum wage in the EU.
RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins said an increase in the minimum wage would stifle job creation.
“I have spoken to members across the country and they were in a state of disbelief that there was talk of increasing wages when restaurants are struggling to keep their doors open,” said Mr Cummins.
He said such measures would have a “disproportionate” negative impact on restaurants outside of the greater Dublin area and suggested that the Govern- ment should instead look to reduce the universal social charge.
“If the desire of the Government and the Oireachtas is to ensure people have more disposable income in their pocket at the end of the week, that they are able to support themselves and their families, then I suggest we look at what emanates from elsewhere in the Oireachtas.
“The most direct way to increase take-home pay is to reduce the excessive burden of taxation and the controversial USC on employees,” Mr Cummins said.
The restaurants association further argued that excessive wage growth “fuelled the Irish economic bubble and helped undermine the competitiveness of the economy” which in turn contributed to the collapse of the economy from 2008 onwards.
However, independent thinktank Tasc said there was widespread public support for an increase in the minimum wage.
“There is overwhelming public support for an increase in the minimum wage, with a recent Behaviour and Attitudes Opinion Poll showing that 86% support an increase in the current living wage and more than three-quarters saying that the minimum wage should be a living wage, which has recently been calculated at €11.50 per hour,” said Cormac Staunton, policy analyst at Tasc.
“The high deprivation rate in Ireland of 30% shows that there is currently a lack of consumption in the local economy.
“Low-paid workers aren’t just employees, they are also customers. Increasing the minimum wage is likely to lead to increase spending in the local economy, which is good for small businesses and jobs.”
The Central Statistics Office defines someone as experiencing deprivation if they experience two or more of 11 listed types of enforced deprivation. These include an inability to afford a warm, waterproof overcoat; if they had to go without heating during the last year through lack of money; or if they are unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish, or the vegetarian equivalent, every second day.