Congress strongly criticises decision to defer 30 cent increase to low paid workers

It is reported that the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection has decided to defer the implementation of the recommended 30 cent an hour increase in the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which currently stands at €9.80 an hour.

General Secretary Patricia King said “such a decision could only be described as reprehensible as it effectively means that Government has decided to penalise the 130,000 or so lowest-paid workers in the state.  The ‘no-deal Brexit caveat’ contained in the Low Pay Commission report makes absolutely no reference whatsoever to a possible deferral of the recommended increase in the event of a no-deal Brexit”.  

Congress has argued and continues to argue that the NMW should be further increased in the event of a no-deal Brexit given the likely impact of such an outcome on low-paid workers and low-income households. The ESRI, for example, estimates that price increases arising from a no-deal Brexit (e.g. in food prices) could result in the lowest-income households experiencing a 4% increase in average annual household expenditure.

Congress’s approach is fully in accordance with the position outlined by the Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe TD in Budget 2020 where he committed to providing €650 million in additional supports in the event of a no-deal Brexit for the Agriculture, Enterprise and Tourism sectors.

The General Secretary said  “It beggars belief that the Government would be considering deferring the recommended 30c an hour increase for low-paid workers at the same time as it committing to providing hundreds of millions in additional supports to businesses. Brexit, and particularly a no-deal Brexit, will have varying impacts on different sectors of the economy. Some sectors will be more negatively affected than others, and equally some sectors will be much less affected than others.

However, deferring the recommended 30c increase would mean that all workers on the NMW will end up paying the price of Brexit”, Patricia King said.