National Minimum Wage Bill, 2000: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage.

(Dublin West): I move amendment No. 52:

In page 30, line 33, after "payroll" to insert "in the case of public sector employees".

I do not intend to pursue this amendment or amendments Nos. 53 and 54 which are very awkwardly phrased because Members are not allowed to table amendments which would incur a cost on the State. I am not satisfied with the way in which the amendments are phrased although that is not the fault of the Bills office.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment Nos. 53 and 54 not moved.

Amendment No. 55 has been ruled out of order.

Amendment No. 55 not moved.

(Dublin West): I move amendment No. 56:

In page 31, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following:

"4. Allowances for special or additional duties including those of a post of responsibility in the case of private sector employees.".

For the information of the House, Government amendment No. 59 addresses this issue.

(Dublin West): My amendment was discussed with amendment No. 59. The Minister should accept amendment No. 56 as it is the same as amendment No. 59.

Amendment No. 59 takes on board the Deputy's point but applies to the public as well as the private sector.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 57 has been ruled out of order.

Amendment No. 57 not moved.

(Dublin West): I move amendment No. 58:

In page 31, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following:

"6. The amount of any service charge distributed to the employee through the payroll in the case of private sector employees.".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 59:

In page 31, between lines 10 and 11, to insert the following:

"7. Allowances for special or additional duties including those of a post of responsibility.".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 60:

In page 31, between lines 10 and 11, to insert the following:

"7. The monetary value of board with lodgings or board only or lodgings, only, not exceeding the amount, if any, prescribed for the purposes of this item.".

Was this amendment already discussed?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 61:

In page 31, between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following:

"9. The amount of any service charge distributed to the employee through the payroll.".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 62:

In page 31, line 38, to delete "paragraph 12” and substitute “paragraph 8”.

This is a drafting amendment arising from changes to Part 1 of the Schedule.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 63 and 64 cannot be moved as amendment No. 17 was negated.

Amendments Nos. 63 and 64 not moved.
Bill reported with amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I thank Deputies Owen, Stanton, Rabbitte and Higgins and the other Deputies who contributed to the debate on the Bill. Both the Minister and I agree that we had a fair, open and lengthy debate on the Bill which we believe has been improved as a result of the amendments made to it. The manner is which the House dealt with the Bill is a credit to the democratic process. I also thank the National Minimum Wage Commission and the many other organisations who participated in the intensive consultative process which resulted in publication of this Bill. The process could be described as representing partnership in action. I thank the departmental officials, Maurice Cashell, Ciarán Ó Cuinnegán and Maurice Nagle.

The Bill adopts a balanced approach which achieves its objectives of protecting vulnerable workers from exploitation and which also ensures that the price for that protection will not result in job losses. The Bill will result in tens of thousands of workers, particularly vulnerable groups such as women and young people, receiving a pay rise which will reflect our concern that they should share in the economic benefits achieved in recent years. The Government is fully honouring its commitment to introduce a national minimum wage, the introduction of which marks an important step in recognising the contribution made by the low paid to our economic development. Together with the tax changes which will come into effect next week, the introduction of the minimum wage represents the Government's determination to have a caring as well as a modern economy.

We welcome the introduction of this Bill. Obviously, a great deal of work was required in the Bill's development and I pay tribute to the Minister, the Minister of State, the departmental officials and others who were involved in that. Reference was made on a number of occasions to the Government's decision to tax the minimum wage, thereby taking a lot of the good out of it. I again urge the Minister and the Minister of State to do all they can to ensure that this will cease as soon as possible because, as it stands, the Government will be the winners to the tune of £70 million or more in additional rev enue. That represents a sleight of hand on the Government's part and I urge the Minister of State to do all he can to reverse the decision to tax the minimum wage. I wish the Bill a speedy passage through the Seanad.

I thank the Minister, the Minister of State and their officials for the manner in which the Bill was processed. The Bill received a reasonable level of scrutiny on Committee Stage, at the end of which it was evident that the Opposition had gone as far as it could. The Bill is a better Bill now than it was when it was first published. I am not entirely persuaded that the Bill will have the predicted dramatic effect on the thousands of workers who will be affected by it and I regret that the element in respect of shift premium remains allowable for calculable purposes. Be that as it may, the Bill is a start – 's é tosach maith leath na hoibre – and I hope the target date of 1 April can be met.

(Dublin West): I apologise for my half hour absence prior to the 7 p.m. intermission. My support was required in another forum to ensure that Travelling people will receive decent accommodation. Whereas the supporters of Padre Pio believed he could be in three places at once, I have not managed, as of yet, to be in two places at once.

I welcome the fact that the concept of a minimum wage is now enshrined in legislation. I have campaigned for it for many years. What has been achieved is merely the beginning. It is clear that low paid workers are on the march. The Government should learn from the absolute frustration of the bus workers who are saying they cannot carry the burden of low pay any longer. I look forward to low paid workers using this legislation to achieve a decent standard of living for themselves and their families and a measure of justice from this economy.

The Minister, quite properly, thanked a number of organisations involved in the processing of the Bill. An organisation likely to be charged with enforcing it is the Free Legal Aid Centre who provided a helpful critique of the Bill. Their work ought to be acknowledged.

Question put and agreed to.