SIPTU Head Equality and Policy, Marie Sherlock, said: “Our union believes that the NMW rising from €9.80 to €10.20 per hour in 2020 is the very minimum of an increase needed. We know from extensive research undertaken by the Vincentian partnership, that the hourly minimum wage based on full time hours required to deliver a minimum essential standard of living was €11.90 in 2018. This figure was based on a worker with no dependents and with regional variations in the cost of living averaged out.
 
“Ultimately, if the NMW is to realise the ambition of a wage floor that can deliver a minimum essential standard of living, a timetable needs to be set out for it to reach the Living Wage.”
 
She added that an increase in the NMW to €10.20 per hour was essential because of research indicating a lack of “wage progression” for low paid workers, unacceptable levels of in-work poverty and that such an increase could be paid by employers due to the improving economy.
 
The public hearing also heard testimony directly from SIPTU activists in the union’s Waterford District Council who work in lower paid sectors of the economy. Linda Hoolmaa, a chef with Novus a subsidiary of WIT, highlighted that some chefs are paid just €0.04 above the NMW. She added that most catering assistants faced in-work poverty due to being paid only the NMW without any other key benefits. She said it was not possible in many cases for such workers to access mortgages, affordable housing and cover other basic costs of living.
 
OCS security operative, John Cotter explained to the Low Pay Commissioners that while workers in his sector were not highly paid they did benefit from an Employment Regulation Order (ERO) which guaranteed them a range of allowances including a sick pay scheme and a death in benefit payment. He added that this was due to employers and unions in the security sector being part of the Joint Labour Committee system through which an ERO is agreed.
 
Read the full SIPTU Submission to the Low Pay Commission