Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Ceisteanna (53)

Paul Murphy


53. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will report on the high incidence of low pay within the meat industry; and her plans to address same. [50380/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection role in relation to wage setting is restricted to the setting of the National Minimum Wage on the basis of recommendations from the Low Pay Commission.

Legislation in relation to the setting of the National Minimum Wage has existed since 2000.  The Low Pay Commission was established in 2015 and its primary function is, on an annual basis, to examine and make recommendations on the national minimum wage, with a view to providing for adjustments which do not impact negatively on jobs or competitiveness.  The Commission thus takes an evidence-based approach to its recommendations, having regard to changes in earnings, productivity, overall competitiveness and the likely impact any adjustment will have on employment and unemployment levels.  

The most recent figures published by Eurostat in January 2019 show that Ireland has the second highest national minimum wage of any country in the EU at €1,656.2 per month, behind only Luxembourg whose minimum wage is €2,071 per month (for comparison purposes Eurostat converts countries’ hourly or weekly rates into monthly rates).  Allowing for purchasing power standards, Ireland drops to sixth place, but still remains in the group with the highest minimum wage rates in the EU.

Notwithstanding the problems recently faced in the Meat Industry the Government continues to assist low income earners with a number of in-work and other supports.  The Government continues its ongoing communication with all stakeholders of the sector to reach best possible outcomes.

The average earnings per week for the manufacturing sector as published by the CSO for Quarter 1 in 2019 increased by 3.5% from Quarter 4 in 2018, however manufacturing, among other factors, is subject to external competition and exchange rate fluctuations.

In terms of wage-setting generally, however, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, through its responsibilities for industrial relations matters, has a role with regard to relations between businesses and employers and their employees, and in relation to wage-setting more particularly through mechanisms such as Registered Employment Agreements, Joint Labour Committees and Sectoral Employment Orders, which remain firmly in the industrial relations and wage bargaining spheres.