SIPTU representatives have welcomed the Government’s decision in April to increase the minimum rates of pay for work permit holders from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) declaring it an opportunity to increase pay for all low-paid workers in Ireland.  

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Greg Ennis, said: “The reality is that schemes where workers are recruited from outside the EEA on work permits would not exist if adequate and competitive wages were being offered by employers in the sectors involved. 

“Ireland is one of the most expensive places in Europe to live. It’s important that all workers’ terms and conditions allow them to live full lives and not simply survive. The cost of rent is extortionate, the price of groceries continues to grow and this is happening while profit margins are ever increasing. 

“We must demand that all workers are treated equally. Otherwise, it allows for a further depression in the real value of wages for all workers in Ireland over time.”

He added: “These low wages are leaving many workers reliant on other state supports just to get by. In reality, this means that employers are being further subsided by the State for a failure to pay adequate wages. We need to move towards a situation where all workers receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and have wages that allow them to aspire to a full life for themselves and their families in the country in which they are employed.”

The EEA consists of the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Before January 2024, non-EEA horticulture and meat processing general workers were paid a mandatory minimum wage of €22,916. However, in mid-January, that increased to €30,000 for any new workers arriving for these jobs. Next year, it will rise again to €34,000 and in January 2026 it will be €39,000.

Picture: SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Greg Ennis