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:

My colleague wants to come in as well on the back of this response. First and foremost, I want to be very clear on the point I made. I have always maintained the position, both as a trade union official for many years and as a member of the Low Pay Commission, that the primary responsibility to pay a decent wage rests with an employer. I have already quoted the attitude of one employer I heard this morning that in some way what happened in the budget yesterday is substituting responsibility or taking away that responsibility from an employer to pay a decent wage. That is always the primary responsibility.

Based on my years of experience on the commission and also based on the research that has been carried out on the issue, I do not accept the point made by Mr. Courtney. He talks about the activity largely within the unionised sector. We have to realise that the workers we are talking about are predominantly non-union. They are the lowest paid workers in our society and I do not believe that a decent pay increase for them has the potential to spike inflation in any major way. Again, previous research has shown in respect of competitiveness and productivity that one of the important points is that many of the jobs we are talking about are not internationally comparable and they are very much in the domestic economy. There is no evidence that a decent wage for low-paid workers, the most vulnerable in our society, spikes inflation.