Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Opposition leader Mary Lou McDonald have accused each other of “delusion” and “untruths” in a heated Dáil exchange during a debate on the minimum wage.
It came as worker representatives have pulled out of the Low Pay Commission over a disagreement on what the new national minimum wage should be and Ms McDonald criticised the Government’s approach to support payments. Just yesterday, Mr Martin told Ms McDonald to “stop the hypocrisy” in response to her criticism of the Government for approving 10 new special advisors for junior ministers with a starting salary of €67,000.
Can you… move beyond your source of delusional reverie and into the real world with the rest of us.
“You’ve cut the PUP (pandemic unemployment payment). We have a Low Pay Commission that won’t deal with low pay. Is this your version of ‘we are all in this together’,” Ms McDonald said today.
“Can you set out for us and move beyond your source of delusional reverie and into the real world with the rest of us, and can you address those low paid workers that you’ve excluded from your wage subsidy scheme, those that will be hurt by your PUP payment,” she added.
The Taoiseach hit back at Ms McDonald’s criticism, saying the Sinn Féin leader was trying to spread “untruths”. You use every situation to tell the untruths, and not to tell the truth… You’re fundamentally wrong.
“You use every situation to tell the untruths, and not to tell the truth, in relation to the reality out there. You’re wrong in terms of wage subsidy scheme. You’re fundamentally wrong,” he said.
“We’re still at approximately 750,000 workers supported by the State right now, so to try and create the impression that the Government is out to get people is outrageous.”Minimum wage
The Government has come under increasing fire for its cut to the PUP as it approved new special advisors for 10 junior ministers.A disagreement over what the new national minimum wage should be has now also caused a split in the Low Pay Commission, which makes recommendations to Government about what the rate should be.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) wants the rate, which is currently €10.10 an hour, to increase by two per cent next year.
The gap between the minimum wage and living wage is €2.20 per hour. However, other Commission members were not prepared to propose an increase of more than one per cent, which amounts to 10 cent per hour.
ICTU General Secretary Patricia King said the union had withdrawn from the Commission as the proposal was unacceptable: “You are talking here about people who were identified in the pandemic as essential workers, people who work in parts of the retail sector.
“These are people who we applauded during the pandemic, people whom I would regard as underpaid and undervalued. We have to say we cannot agree an increase that is less than is applicable in other sectors.”READ MORETest and trace: could a struggling system trigger new restrictions?