The national minimum wage comes into effect in Ireland.

As the national minimum wage comes into effect an Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) helpline is inundated with workers seeking information about their entitlements.

The national minimum wage is expected to benefit more than 160,000 workers, particularly those working in the retail and hospitality sectors. 

The minimum wage is set at £4.40 per hour for all experienced adult workers and £3.08 for those under 18 years old. Patricia O Donovan of the ICTU says all workers are eligible for a basic rate of pay regardless of where they work, or whether they work are full or part time. The service and catering industries in Dublin are already offering workers £5.00 an hour, just to attract the staff.

Hairdresser Aidan Fitzgerald runs a salon in Blackrock, County Dublin. He says the hairdressing industry undoubtedly will be affected by the introduction of a minimum wage. While some of smaller salons will be forced to close, he believes a minimum wage will have an overall positive effect on the sector.

People will want to be trained better, so paying them more, if we're going to get more efficiency and better services to the customer, I think at the end of the day it will serve everyone better.

Press and Information Officer of the National Youth Council of Ireland Eamonn Waters fears there are not enough inspectors to enforce the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000. This could lead to ongoing exploitation in the workplace.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 1 April 2000. The reporter is Paul Cunningham.