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Serious questions for Low Pay Commission says Sherlock

28 September 2022

  • Admission they don’t look at profitability of sectors with most minimum wage workers

Labour’s Worker’s rights spokesperson Marie Sherlock has today (Wednesday, 28th September) expressed grave concerns over the Low Pay Commission's admission about how they assess the appropriate national minimum wage.

Speaking following a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise Trade and Employment, Senator Sherlock said:

“Today, the Low Pay Commission acknowledged that they do not have up to date and relevant data available to them on the profitability of the sectors where there is a high concentration of NMW workers. This is particularly significant given that the Low Pay Commission knowingly made a recommendation for 2023 that would amount to a real cut in pay for minimum wage workers next year.

“While we are all conscious that any pay increase should be within the ability of employers to pay, it is simply incredible that no account is taken of the very significant profitability enjoyed by some sectors and the impact on operating costs.

“For instance, in hospitality, we know from revenue per available room estimates in the hotel sector that hoteliers are generating very considerable profits in 2022 notwithstanding increases to their cost base in respect of energy. Yet none of this seems to have been taken into account. The Low Pay Commission acknowledged that they have previously recommended that profitability data be made available, yet there was no sense after questioning today that the LPC placed any great importance on this. The reality is that significant profits are being generated in certain sectors on the backs of hard work by minimum wage workers and they do not get to share in any of that pick up in that profit.    

“Unfortunately, the analysis about the minimum wage is not about a worker’s cost of living. Instead it is based on a wide range of macroeconomic indicators which are removed from workers’ lives. This all points to the necessity in the first instance of moving to a living wage and secondly, enabling workers to collectively bargain for a fairer share of the profit in their workplace. The Low Pay Commission (LPC) relied on inflation estimates from the ESRI’s summer economic commentary which forecast a 11.4% increase in inflation between 2022 and 2023 and yet the LPC recommended an increase lower than that knowing that the lowest paid would suffer a cut in living standards.”