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Government to examine introduction of living wage, Taoiseach says

In Ireland, the living wage is considered to be 12.30 euros per hour, as opposed to the minimum wage, which is 10.10 euros per hour.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal/PA)

The Government is to examine the introduction of a statutory living wage to tackle income inequality, Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said.

A living wage is the amount considered necessary to provide an acceptable standard of living.

In Ireland, the living wage is 12.30 euros per hour, as opposed to the minimum wage, which is 10.10 euros per hour.

All of that has to be examined and is being examined, with a view to underpinning security income for lower-paid workers Taoiseach Micheal Martin

Speaking to journalists before Christmas, Mr Martin said the Covid crisis had exposed income inequality in Ireland and that the Government would consider a living wage as a measure to tackle the issue.

He said: “I think there is a clear message emanating from Covid that it has exposed the duality of the Irish economy in terms of low-paid workers.

“Now some employers have been good, I have to say in terms of the practices that they’ve deployed in respect of their workforce.

“And I do think we need to look at that and the Government will be looking at the whole area of a living wage.

“That’s something we’ve got to, not just a minimum wage, but a living wage, which would really deal to some degree with that issue.”

The Taoiseach said he also wished to look at providing better conditions for workers in terms of contract hours and security of tenure.

He added: “All of that has to be examined and is being examined, with a view to underpinning security income for lower-paid workers.

“Even the current public service pay agreement is weighted towards lower-income workers in the public service. And I think that will be a theme of the Government in terms of that issue.

“Now, Ireland overall is better actually than some other countries in terms of income equality and there was a recent study which showed that, from 2000 onwards, there was a dramatic impact in reducing income inequality in Ireland which was counterintuitive to what was happening in other parts of the globe.

“But we have to keep at it and I would think that coming out of Covid there’s a far greater degree of acknowledgement and respect for that issue.”

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The living wage in Ireland is considered to be 12.30 euros an hour (Niall Carson/PA)

The living wage in Ireland is considered to be 12.30 euros an hour (Niall Carson/PA)

The living wage in Ireland is considered to be 12.30 euros an hour (Niall Carson/PA)

The Taoiseach also said that the National Economic Recovery Plan, due to be published in the new year, will focus on green issues.

He said: “In a certain sense, people reflecting on Covid are saying you know, we do need to sort out the most existential threat facing us which is the climate and we just have to take actions in relation to it.

“I mean that is why the EU Council meeting two weeks ago went on for 23 hours, non-stop from 1 o’clock to 10 o’clock the following morning, simply to get an agreement.

“Because one or two countries were holding out and the rest of the member states felt we just have to stick at this until we get a result for the younger generations.”

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