Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation Niall Collins TD has welcomed the latest Low Pay Commission (LPC) Report but has said that the ability of businesses to absorb the recommended National Minimum Wage (NMW) increase must be borne in mind.
“While the suggested increase is in line with the Central Bank’s own pay growth forecasts, it will bring little relief or respite to low paid workers struggling to keep up with cost of living hikes.
“High rents, spiralling childcare costs and indirect taxes are placing a huge burden on low pay workers struggling to meet weekly financial commitments.
“Supporting workers on low pay must go hand in hand with supporting small SMEs who will have to fund any pay increase. These employers must be supported to absorb the cost of pay increases in a way that doesn’t harm their competitiveness.
“SMEs, in particular, face severe challenges over the next two years with Brexit coming down the tracks. Already, we have seen Sterling fluctuations reduce the value of Irish exports to the UK by €500 in 2016.
“The objective of this proposed increase in the NMW must be to increase standards of living and grow employment rates.
“Fundamentally, we need to be supporting people out of low paid jobs through increased access to training and on the job training. This is good for people and good for the economy.
“The National Competitiveness Council has already said that Irish business competitiveness is weakening, and the Government must urgently address the high cost of doing business in Ireland with major increases in business insurance, housing and children damaging the ability of Irish businesses to compete with their global competitors.
“Workers need a pay rise to keep pace with the increasing cost of living in Ireland, but businesses too must be supported to improving their competitiveness to ensure that employment numbers increase,” concluded Collins.