NI Executive should be first to introduce ‘living wage’: Ramsey

Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey.
Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey.

Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has called on the NI Executive to be the first to introduce the National Living Wage which has been announced by British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne.

Reacting to Wednesday’s Westminster budget announcement, Mr Ramsey, the SDLP’s spokesperson on Employment and Learning, said: “While I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that this government is to introduce a new national living wage, and that this will result in a pay rise for some six million people, we, in the North, can’t wait years for its implementation.

“We, in the SDLP, have been calling for the introduction of the living wage for some time as it is no longer addressing low pay problems.

“I hope this goes some way to helping the working poor lift themselves from the fringes of poverty.”

The announcement, says Mr. Ramsey, will have a dramatic effect in the North and will go some way to addressing SDLP concerns on welfare cuts.

“However, it is not a cure,” he added. “I will be lobbying at the Assembly now to introduce the national living wage for all public sector workers as a matter of priority.

“The Executive needs to bring forward legislation in the short term to enable the speedy introduction of the living wage in Northern Ireland.

“While it is a challenging time for departmental budgets, we need to ensure that those lower paid public sector workers earn enough wages to live on.”