Dáil Éireann - Volume 417 - 10 March, 1992

Written Answers. - EC Social Charter.

46. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Labour if he will outline his views on the EC Social Charter, in particular his position on the concept of a minimum wage; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Labour (Mr. Cowen): I outlined the Government's position on the European Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights in my reply to Question No. 430 on 3 March 1992.

The principles outlined in the Community Social Charter have provided the basis for an action programme brought forward by the European Commission. It comprises the various initiatives which the Commission proposed to bring forward between 1989 and the end of 1992.

Neither in the Charter nor in the Commission's Action Programme is any reference made to the concept of a minimum [66] wage. The Charter refers to the introduction of an equitable wage sufficient to enable workers to have a decent standard of living. The Commission has acknowledged that the interpretation of decent would vary within as well as between member states. It is made clear, moreover, that not only would the Commission be refraining from fixing such a wage it would not be appropriate for it to define decent even in qualitative terms. The action programme leaves decisions in this area up to member states and both sides of industry. The Commission propose to issue an opinion on an equitable wage and this is expected to be available shortly.