Varadkar: Minimum wage has to be increased in a 'sustainable way'

John Halligan suggests we should be aiming towards a 'livable wage' of €13-14

Varadkar: Minimum wage has to be increased in a 'sustainable way'

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/

The Taoiseach says the minimum wage has to be increased in a sustainable way.

It follows criticism from one of his own ministers that a 30 cent increase is "pathetic".

The Low Pay Commission recommended earlier this month that the current hourly rate of €9.25 should increase to €9.55. The change would come into effect from the start of next year.

Junior Minister John Halligan of the Independent Alliance says he is 'disappointed' by the recommendation, arguing that it does not go far enough given the high cost of living in Ireland.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, he said: "It's disappointing - you look at the cost of living, the cost of housing, the cost of renting, and so in Ireland... you have to protect those who are most vulnerable. The people that are most vulnerable are people who don't have work, and then people earning a minimum wage."

He also suggested we should be aiming towards a 'livable wage' of €13-14, observing: "It's one of the dearest countries to live in, so we really have to determine a quality wage and a livable wage for people... not so much a minimum wage.

"Nobody is saying that every small business would be able to pay a livable wage [...] But we still have to bring a volume of people into a [deserving] quality of life... and if that means we subsidise small businesses in doing so, so be it."

Leo Varadkar, however, says any increase has to be managed carefully.

He noted: "We have to bear in mind the impact on employment, and if you increase wages too quickly there is a risk we could lose jobs - and that would be a terrible result.

"That's why we rely on the advice of the Low Pay Commission to ensure that we increase wages - and the minimum wage in particular - in a way that is sustainable so that it doesn't get taken away again."