The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has told the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment that while much is made of the fact that Ireland has one of the highest minimum wage rates in the EU, this is misleading.
In an opening address to the committee, ICTU's Dr Laura Bambrick told TDs and senators that Ireland was already the second most expensive country in the EU even before the current inflation surge.
"When the purchasing power of minimum wage workers is taken into account, Ireland drops from second to seventh position in the rankings and behind our wealthy EU peers," Dr Bambrick said.
The committee is currently holding hearings on the cost of living, the minimum wage and the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission.
Last month, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar announced that the Government had accepted the recommendation of the Low Pay Commission to increase the national minimum wage to €11.30 per hour from 1 January 2023.
This represents an 80 cent increase, or 7.6%, on the current minimum wage of €10.50 per hour.
The Tánaiste also announced at the time that the Low Pay Commission had set an indicative 'Living Wage' for 2023 of €13.10 per hour.
It is planned that the Living Wage will be phased in between now and 2026 when it will become mandatory.