Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Cost of Living, Minimum Wage Increases and Report of Low Pay Commission: Discussion

Mr. Gerry Light:

We always ensured we did our best in respect of the most vulnerable workers in society. As a member of the commission, I and my colleagues certainly tried to ensure that. What is critical is where we are going in the future and what low-paid workers are confronting today as we sit in this committee room. I will not go over the points Senator Gavan has made, but the linkage between the past three years, the effective pay cut and the median wage has drifted further away. That is the important thing we need to consider. In that context, we have put in a submission with specific targets and specific rates contained within it. The minority report also clearly outlines a much more realistic and fairer approach for low-paid workers. After all, one in five workers in this country is on low pay. It is one of the highest rates, if not the highest, in Europe. I am not coming back to the question about the budget, Chair, do not worry, but 1 million of those workers, nearly a third of them, earn wages that are so low they are not even in the tax net. The way to look at this situation, then, and it is to be hoped we are all in this mindset, is to look forward now, address the real challenges that face low-paid workers today and move forward to ensure they do not drift further into working poverty.