Varadkar: "There are two things we have to do... one is to bring wages up" 1 month ago

Varadkar: "There are two things we have to do... one is to bring wages up"

The Tánaiste said wage increases are necessary as part of measures to tackle the housing crisis.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Irish Government has to "bring wages up", describing the need for action as "quite urgent".

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The Tánaiste made the comments to Bloomberg while attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Tuesday (24 May).

While there, he also stated he does not believe the EU will go into a recession but added there will be a decline in economic activity.

"Economic forecasts are as accurate as weather forecasts, probably less so," Varadkar explained.

"Anybody has to be very careful about making them. But certainly talking to people here and my own sense on balance is that the Eurozone and European Union will not go into recession. There will be a slowdown.

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“We have fiscal levers and some of the rules around this building growth pact relaxation are being extended, so I don’t think we’re facing into recession," Varadkar added. "Not as rapid growth as we might have hoped for certainly, but who knows, and we can’t take that for granted.”

Also, at the event, the Tánaiste spoke about Ireland's housing crisis and what measures the Government is taking to tackle the issue.

As part of this, he mentioned proposals set to be brought to Government this year to introduce a living wage in Ireland.

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"I think there are two things that we can do and we have to do and this is quite urgent. One is to bring wages up... to bring wages more into line with what people need to live. Within reason, of course.

"Businesses have to be able to afford it. And that's why in Ireland, we're bringing in a living wage, for example. We have a high minimum wage already but we're going to do better with the living wage, bringing in new protections around sick pay, for example. Bringing that in for the first time. Some people have it, some people don't.

"But a huge difficulty that people have, and I can understand the anger and frustration around it, is people in their 20s and 30s and even 40s with good jobs who can’t become homeowners," Varadkar continued.

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"And that’s a real problem for society. It’s an intergenerational injustice. It is causing people to turn to populism. And we’re doing everything we can to pull out the stops to increase housing supply and also help first-time buyers to get their first home."

According to the Living Wage Technical Group (LWTG), the living wage in Ireland is currently €12.90 per hour.