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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Leah Farrell Paul Murphy

'Pay discrimination': Bill seeks to give under-20s the same minimum wage as everyone else

PBP TD Paul Murphy said that existing legislation allowing 17-year-olds to be paid as little as €7.91 per hour is ‘perverse and exploitative’.

A PEOPLE BEFORE Profit bill which would bring the minimum wage for workers under the age of 20 in line with the national minimum wage will be debated in the Dáil tomorrow.

Under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, 17 year olds in the workforce can be paid €7.91 per hour, which is 70% of the national minimum wage of €11.30 for people aged 20 and over.

People Before Profit have branded the tiered minimum wage, which allows 18-year-olds to be paid 80% of the minimum wage and 19-year-olds to be paid 90%, as “pay discrimination”.

Speaking about his party’s National Minimum Wage (Equal Pay for Young Workers) Bill, PBP TD Paul Murphy said that the current minimum wage laws are “perverse and exploitative”.

“We know that the minimum wage is completely inadequate to survive on given that we are in a cost of living crisis, but 15,000 workers are paid even less than minimum wage purely because they are younger than 20,” he said.

The bill has been supported by trade unions including the ICTU, Mandate and Unite, as well as UCD Students Union, the Union of Students in Ireland and the Irish Second Level Students Union.

Murphy added that the difference in pay isn’t just an issue for young people, but that during the summer employers will “prefer to take on young people on less than minimum wage instead of giving extra hours” to older staff.

“If you’re 17, 18 or 19 you can’t go to your landlord and say ‘Here’s 90% of the rent’, or go to a supermarket and say ‘Here’s 80% of the price of my goods’. They have to buy goods and services at the same rate as the rest of us.”

People Before Profit will hold a rally in support of the bill in front of Leinster House at 9.30am tomorrow, with trade and student unions.

Universal Social Charge

The party also advocated for the abolition of the Universal Social Charge (USC) today, calling for it to be replaced with a tax on income over €100,000 and a ‘millionaire’s tax’.

The charge was introduced in 2011 to increase the annual revenue raised by the Income and Health Levies it replaced.

A person on a yearly income of €50,000 would pay approximately €1,500 in USC, depending on which exemptions they qualify for.

People Before Profit TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry said that his party feels strongly that the “temporary austerity measure” needs to be abolished.

“Fine Gael in the 2016 election pledged that if they were in the next government, that the Universal Social Charge would go. It didn’t,” Barry said.

 ”USC is a real burden on the backs of working people during a cost of living crisis,” he continued.

“We aren’t in favour of abolishing the USC and leaving the state with a narrower tax base. We are in favour of bringing in a higher income social charge of 10% for people with income over €100,000.”

He added that the party was also in favour of a millionaire’s tax of 2% on income over one million euro, which Barry claimed would leave the state with a higher tax take than it receives from USC.

Barry’s fellow PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett added that their party was the only one in Ireland still advocating for the abolition of the USC.

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