The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has called for the national minimum wage to be increased in January 2024 by €2, making the hourly rate €13.30.
In a submission to the Low Pay Commission, ICTU said such an increase would go a considerable distance to providing a decent standard of living for low paid workers.
ICTU is also calling for the minimum wage to increase by another €2 in January 2025.
“Low paid workers on the national minimum wage are hurting disproportionately in this cost-of-living crisis,” said ICTU General Secretary Owen Reidy.
“We also believe that reductions to the minimum wage on age grounds are ill-judged and outdated. It is wrong that we pay adults a percentage of the national minimum wage,” Mr Reidy added.
Last year, the Government announced plans to introduce a new national ‘living wage’ to replace the minimum wage by 2026.
It will be phased in over a four-year period starting this year and will be set at 60% of the hourly median wage.
In 2023, it is estimated that 60% of median earnings would equate to approximately €13.10 per hour.
The minimum wage increased by 80c on 1 January 2023 to €11.30 per hour.
This will be followed by gradual increases until the minimum wage reaches 60% of hourly median earnings.
ICTU said it welcomed the fact that the Government is committed to moving to a national living wage but added that it needs to happen sooner.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Mr Reidy said the sky did not fall in when the minimum wage was introduced in Ireland despite opposition to the move.
He said: “I think work has to pay, We have a minimum wage, it needs to be more meaningful and we can’t disrespect 18 and 19 year olds and treat them like children. They don’t even get the full minimum wage, they get 80 and 90% of it, so we really need a good look at this.”
He added that many countries – including Germany, Belgium and Spain – do not discriminate against young workers.