High earners in Ireland have had far bigger income increases than blue-collar workers

Managers and professionals see biggest hike in earnings since 2010

High earners in Ireland have had far bigger income increases than blue-collar workers

File photo

Pay increases since 2010 have disproportionately benefited higher-earning groups, a new study has found.

The Unite trade union report used CSO statistics to illustrate the widening gap in weekly income between different occupational sectors.

Between 2010 and the third quarter of 2015, managers and professionals saw their earnings increase by an average of 11.3%, according to the figures. 

Office, sales and services workers had pay hikes of 1.4% over the same period. Wages for manual workers, including transport staff, rose by less than 1%.

The study also found that Ireland has the second highest level of wage inequality in the EU 15 after Portugal, with living standards 15% below the average. 

Workers in the retail and hospitality sectors would need wage increases of up to 25% to reach the same income level as their European counterparts, it said.

The report added that poor pay is compounded by low levels of employers’ social insurance, which means Irish workers have to pay more to access services such as healthcare.

Call for stronger workers' rights

Jimmy Kelly of Unite said the research shows Ireland's economic recovery is “a myth for thousands of workers who earn less than their counterparts elsewhere in the EU”.  

Low incomes are bad for the Irish economy as well as individuals and families, he said.

“Irish wages are uncompetitively low. This results in reduced domestic demand which, in turn, reduces business performance.

“It also reduces tax revenue, which depresses the ability of the state to invest in our economic and social infrastructure. Our low-wage culture is propelling the Irish economy into a race-to-the-bottom.”

The union has called for a higher minimum wage and stronger workers' rights, including collective bargaining.