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Minister Nash hosts Forum on the Living Wage

Employers signal support for the introduction of a Living Wage campaign here

More than 120 employers, trade union representatives and civil society organisations gathered at Dublin Castle today for a Forum on the Living Wage, hosted by the Minister for Business & Employment Ged Nash TD and addressed by the Tánaiste & Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton TD.  

The Living Wage is an independently assessed and measured rate of income considered necessary to meet basic needs, such as housing, food, clothing, transport and healthcare.  

Minister Nash has been championing the introduction of a voluntary Living Wage Campaign and has been engaging with progressive employers who are ready to take a leading role in bringing the campaign to Ireland.

IKEA, SSE, Oxfam, Clúid Housing, the Dublin Food Coop and the Labour Party have signalled their support for the development of a Living Wage Campaign in Ireland.  

Tánaiste Joan Burton announced at the Forum that she had secured funding for the next phase of work on a Living Wage Campaign in Ireland.

“My support for the Living Wage initiative is well known because I believe in ensuring that the economic recovery is felt by everyone and workers should earn enough to provide for a decent standard of living. My Department will make €40,000 available to fund the next phase of work for the Living Wage Campaign, to scope out how such a campaign could be introduced in Ireland and what its framework would be.“I’m committing the Labour Party today to being a Living Wage employer and while I acknowledge that more work needs to be done, with the commitment of the delegates representing employers and workers here today, I expect to see a Living Wage Campaign and process for accreditation up and running next year.”

Minister Nash said, “One of my central beliefs is that work should always pay.  I doubt there is anyone here who does not support the concept of ensuring that workers earn enough to live on. As our economy recovers, I believe this is an opportune time to examine how to introduce a campaign which is aimed at promoting decent pay.” 

"I want to pay tribute to the pioneering employers who are taking a leadership position on the Living Wage in Ireland and who are declaring their support for the campaign today. However, as the Minister for Business and Employment, I am also acutely aware that there are businesses who are still struggling to keep their doors open. That is why I believe that the Living Wage Campaign here should be a voluntary one, based on not just a social but critically a business and economic case. It should be about engagement and persuasion and not based on legislation or condemnation.”

Marsha Smith, IKEA Dublin Store Manager said, “As a values-driven organisation, we are guided by our vision to create a better everyday life for people, which of course includes our co-workers. We believe our people are the inner strength of our company, so it is only right to ensure we provide a meaningful wage that supports the cost of living.”

“Introducing the Living Wage is not only the right thing to do for our co-workers, but it also makes good business sense. This is a long-term investment in our people based on our values and our belief that a team with good compensation and working conditions is in a position to provide a great experience to our customers.”

Jacqui Synnott from Clúid Housing said, “Cluid Housing provides affordable rental housing for over 5000 households on low incomes.  With an affordable rent, our tenants can benefit from a minimum standard of living that enables them to participate fully in society.  Clúid Housing believes that this principle should apply to our staff as well, so we strongly support the Living Wage initiative.”

Oxfam Ireland CEO Jim Clarken said, “Oxfam Ireland endorses the living wage both as an employer and as an advocate for people experiencing poverty and inequality globally. Not only does the living wage keep people out of poverty, it allows families to progress and societies too. A living wage helps to create a more equal, fairer world. Oxfam’s Even it Up campaign recommends a living wage as part of a range of measures to tackle extreme inequality.”

Joe Zefran from the Dublin Food Coop said, “Dublin Food Coop has paid its employees a Living Wage for several years as part of our holistic commitment to economic sustainability. This environment empowered our members to incubate a number of small enterprises like The Fumbally Cafe, Dublin Flea Market, Green Door Market, Blazing Salads, Camerino Bakery, and Leaves Catering. The Living Wage campaign will help level the playing field for businesses, workers, and consumers - and create a more equitable Irish economy."

Companies, civil society and trade unionists are attending the one day conference in Dublin Castle, moderated by broadcaster Olivia O’Leary.  

Delegates heard from the Living Wage Foundation in the UK as well as UK based Living Wage employers, who made the business case for signing up to the campaign.  Research has shown that 80% of Living Wage employers in London believe it has enhanced the quality of work of their staff, while absenteeism has fallen by a quarter.  75% of employees reported increases in work quality as a result of receiving the Living Wage and 50% of employees felt that the Living Wage had made them more willing to implement changes in their working practices.

Minister Nash added, “Today’s forum is a significant step towards the introduction of a Living Wage here and the funding secured by the Tánaiste will be vital.

I am now seeking representatives from employers, workers and civil society to volunteer to be part of a small working group to undertake this next phase of work and pave the way for the introduction of an accredited Living Wage Campaign here.” 

 

ENDS 

 

For more information contact Deirdre Grant 086 0484 279 or

DJEI Press Office press.office@djei.ie or 01 631 2200

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