2 March 2000
Minimum Wage should be set at £5 and tax free
The minimum wage should be set at £5 per hour and free of tax, according to Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. He was speaking in the Dáil debate on the National Minimum Wage Bill. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
``We have a Minimum Wage Bill in name, but we do not have a fair minimum wage. We do not even have one minimum wage but a wage structure filled with caveats and conditions that create not just one minimum wage but a series of lesser paler imitations.
``We have no promise to take low paid workers out of the tax net. There is no inflation proofing of the rate and the criteria to review it are schewed massively in favour of employers. Many of the thousands of low-paid workers in this State believed that this Bill would right a wrong but how will they judge a government that balked when faced with the decision to guarantee workers a basic first step on the road towards a dignified standard of living.
``A range of expert opinion including Combat Poverty recommended removing the low paid from the tax net altogether. However the government refused to do this and thus created another crack in their minimum wage strategy.
``The ICTU had been seeking an hourly minimum rate of £5 per hour, a demand that I and my party fully support. Under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness the £5 minimum hourly rate needed now is to be delayed until October 2002.''
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