The decision by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to withdraw from the Low Pay Commission (LPC) will do little service to the people it purports to represent. It also throws the future of the Government body, set up in 2015, in doubt.
There is merit on both sides. Some of our lowest-paid have been at the Covid-19 coalface, as workers in asylum seeking utilities and nursing homes. It is only right that their contribution should be valued. Similarly, those who work in the hospitality industry deserve a fair return for their efforts.
On the other hand, a survey by the Law Society of Ireland shows that Ireland has the second-highest national minimum wage rate in the EU, surpassed only by Luxembourg. Denmark, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Finland and Sweden have none.
The current rate here is €10.10 and there is little more than 10 cents between the sides— with the ICTU insisting on at least a two per cent rise in the minimum wage and other LPC members determined it be no more than one per cent.
Walking away from negotiations and walking out from the mechanism that secures a minimum wage is not the answer.