The wage gap between top earners and the low paid in Ireland is much wider than in any other high-income European country, according to an analysis by a union-backed economic think-tank.
Using new European earnings data, the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) found that the top 10% of earners were paid almost four times what the bottom 10% receive. The Irish pay gap is almost twice that of Sweden.
In a blog published last week, NERI economist Ciarán Nugent called for State support for union wage bargaining, the extension of collective agreements to non-union parts of the economy, and a €2.10 increase in the national minimum wage.
The data also measures the purchasing power of hourly pay rates in different countries, and finds that Irish low and middle-earners fare badly compared to their European peers. But top earners in Ireland can buy more with an hour’s pay than their equivalents in ten high-income countries.
NERI also identified a widening gap between the hourly earnings of workers under 30 and those of their older colleagues. The average Irish full-time worker aged under 30 earned 72% of the average in 2006. By 2018, that had fallen to 65%.
Over that period, the age-related pay gap widened more in Ireland than any other of 11 high-income EU countries.
Fórsa has been urging the Government to support proposed new EU rules aimed at tackling low incomes through strengthened collective bargaining. The proposed Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages would require Ireland and other EU member states to take actions to increase collective bargaining coverage.
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