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Dublin: 9 °C Saturday 16 February, 2019
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The SFA is warning the new small business minister to steer clear of wage hikes

This afternoon Ged Nash said that businesses should try and award pay increases where possible.

Ged Nash (R) with Richard Bruton earlier this month.
Ged Nash (R) with Richard Bruton earlier this month.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE SMALL FIRMS Association called on the Minister of State in the Department of Jobs to tackle high labour costs at a meeting in Dublin today.

Speaking before meeting with ‘super junior’ minister Ged Nash, who has special responsibility for small business, SFA chairman AJ Noonan said:

We are opposed to any increase in the statutory minimum wage and mandatory sick pay or pension provision, which would have a devastating impact on the fragile recovery that is taking place in small firm employment.

On RTE Radio One this afternoon, Nash called on employers to push ahead with wage increases where possible.

A requirement on successful employers to work with their staff to move towards a situation where they are talking about pay increases for productivity gains.

Nash has been to the forefront of Labour party figures calling for wage increases, and as part of his new ‘super junior’ brief will oversee the new Low Pay Commission.

However, the SFA warned that the Government should tread carefully when it comes to enforcing across the board wage increases.

“Whilst much talk has been made about a Low Pay Commission, the fact is that even with the 3% increase in the UK national minimum wage from October 2014, it will still only be the equivalent of €8.17 per hour, compared to our existing high rate of €8.65 per hour.”

The small business lobby says that labour costs are 30.8% higher than in the UK.

‘A man we can work with’

Speaking after the meeting today, AJ Noonan said that he is confident that the SFA can work with Nash on wages.

“Obviously there are areas we’re going to disagree on but overall I’m confident we can work with him.”

He said that wage increases for companies that are performing would be reasonable.

“That’s something we wouldn’t have a problem with, whereas wage increases across the board could put us out of business completely.”

Earlier today, Nash argued that “nobody is talking about trying to impose pay increases on firms that couldn’t possibly afford that at this stage”.

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Jack Horgan-Jones

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