SIPTU report shows one in five workers are low paid

Research into the low pay crisis in Ireland has revealed that one out of every five, or approximately 370,000, employees are earning less than €12.00 an hour.

The report entitled ‘Low Pay Republic’, and compiled by SIPTU Economist, Michael Taft, shows that the low pay rate in Ireland is significantly above the EU average. Ireland ranks 8th out of the 27 member states for those on low rates of pay and second highest among the wealthier members.

Michael Taft said: “Over the last 20 years, low-pay has remained stable and is affecting 20% of workers. This is a long-term structural issue. Not surprising, the worst affected sector is hospitality (hotels and restaurants) where over half of all employees are low-paid. Other low paid sectors include administrative services, retail, Arts and entertainment, food production and other, mostly personal, services. However, it should also be noted that in manufacturing and health, two sectors with higher than average wage levels, there are still nearly one-in-seven employees that are low paid.

“Women and young people are disproportionately represented among low paid workers. Nearly 23% of women, compared to 17% of men, and over 30% of young people under 30 years are affected. Workers, the economy, society and businesses pay a very high cost over low pay. For workers, it undermines their living standards and life quality. The economy suffers from loss of demand due to the reduced purchasing power of low-paid workers. This, in turn, results in lower business turnover and investment.”

He added: “Low pay is economically irrational, fiscally degrading and, most of all, socially obscene. It can be eliminated from the economy but this requires a multi-faceted strategy including a radical extension of collective bargaining and a robust method governing minimum wage increases.”

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