A living wage for all workers

In our 2016 policy manifesto we call for a living wage for all workers. The living wage is an estimate of the wage that would provide a full-time worker with a basic, but adequate, standard of living.

Here are our top reasons why:

 1  It will reduce poverty

Most people living in poverty in Northern Ireland are currently in work. We have the largest percentage of workers earning below the living wage in the UK and high levels of children living in poor families. Those experiencing poverty are subject to issues such as a higher risk of health problems, debt, and lower educational attainment for school-age children. The introduction of a living wage for all workers would counter these issues and directly address the issue of poverty in Northern Ireland.

 2  A fair day's pay for a fair day's work

A more ethical argument concerning the rights of workers to be guaranteed a fair minimum rate of pay, must also be considered. Moreover, a policy orientated around “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” has the capacity to reduce inequality and poverty and improved living standards for the lowest-paid without harming growth. It`s a simple matter of fairness; working people deserve to benefit from their hard work.

 3  It will reduce dependency on Government support

The benefits of the introduction of a living wage for all workers go beyond the level of the individual in ensuring a positive impact of wider society. The living wage has the potential to reduce dependency on government support or interventions, such as in-work benefits and tax credits. This will ensure that Government money and investments go further in tackling wider poverty and inequality amongst the most disadvantaged in society.

 4  It will put more money in the hands of low-wage workers

An increase in the minimum wage would put more money into the hands of low-wage workers, who will in turn then spend those wages. This spending generates increased demand in the economy, more generally. An increase in disposable income also makes individuals more likely to invest in personal savings. This ensures that they are more resilient in economic terms. It will provide a predictable basis for workers to plan for the future, helping people to make ends meet, and ultimately prosper.

​ 5  There will be a long term net gain in employment

There has been much concern expressed on the potential negative impact of the introduction of a living wage, particularly on the ability of employers to pay increased rates. However, evidence in our research has suggested that while this would lead to a loss of jobs, boosted consumption would create a net gain of jobs overall in the region. We recognise that there is a need to be careful to ensure that an increase in wages does not lead to job losses in the short term. Therefore, we are calling for a Northern Ireland Low Pay Commission (NILPC) to be established. Like the UK Low Pay Commission, the NILPC would bring together employers, employees and independent advisors to ensure the conditions could be created to enable firms to pay a living wage to all workers, without compromising their stability.

 6  Higher wages increase productivity and a gross value added contribution could be made to the Northern Ireland economy

The Living Wage has the potential to transform the economy of Northern Ireland by positively impacting the day to day running of businesses and organisations. Recent research commissioned by NICVA stated the following:

“Higher wages may lead to reduced worker turnover, resulting in lower recruitment and training costs, as well as deeper levels of firm-specific skills across the workforce. Firms may also find it more worthwhile to invest in worker training as a result of reduced worker turnover. Each of these things would represent a ‘win-win’ outcome for employees and employers”.

This may represent a marked shift for employers in expenditure and losses in relation to their workforce and ensure greater stability and efficiency, benefiting both employers and workers.

Read our full Policy Manifesto 2016 and costings here

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