Originally posted on the Unite, Republic of Ireland site.

With 1-in-5 people in work suffering deprivation, tackling poverty pay must be priority

Commenting today, on last week’s Council of Europe report which found that the cut-rate Minimum wage payable to young and first-time workers – €6.92 in the first year of employment and €7.79 in the second year, as opposed to €8.65 for ‘experienced adult workers’ – is insufficient to ensure a decent standard of living, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly today (Sunday 25 January) called on the Government to ensure that its forthcoming review of the Minimum Wage abolishes any age discrimination. He also reiterated the union’s call for a €1 increase in the Minimum Wage.

“At €8.65 per hour, Ireland’s Minimum Wage is already substantially below the Living Wage figure of €11.45 calculated last year. Now, the Council of Europe has weighed in on the debate, pointing out that the cut-rate Minimum Wage payable to young workers is in breach of Article 4 of the Social Charter, since it forces the young workers affected below the “decent remuneration” threshold of 60% of the net average wage.

“In the year after the crisis began, young people suffered an earnings fall nearly four times severe as the national average.  They have been disproportionately hit by unemployment and emigration. They have been had their social protection rates slashed by half. And many of those who do manage to find employment find themselves working on wages 20 per cent below the national minimum rate.

“Unite has long urged the Government to raise the Minimum Wage by €1 per hour, to €9.65 per hour, in order to lift people out of poverty and help kick start a wage-led recovery. We are also calling on the Government to ensure that the forthcoming review of the Minimum Wage abolishes any age discrimination.

“At a time when one in five people in work suffers deprivation, tackling poverty pay must be a priority”, Jimmy Kelly said.

Unite Youth activist Laura Duggan added:

“The use of a three-tier minimum wage system strikes at the very core of what a minimum wage represents. It unfairly penalises young workers newly entering the workforce at a time when finding work itself is a struggle. This alongside the appalling abuses of JobBridge and its ilk highlights the second class status of young workers in Ireland. This report simply demonstrates a fact already known to the majority of young workers: the state refuses to see them as full citizens who deserve the same rights and protections as all other workers, and would prefer to force them in to poverty and out of  the country than remedy that reality”, Ms Duggan said.

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