Louth’s Labour deputy Ged Nash has been appointed to the cabinet after just three years in the Dail.
He is the new Super Junior Minister with responsibility for overseeing the Government’s new low pay commission as well trying to strengthen collective bargaining.
The low pay commission was announced by the new Tanaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton, after her election as party leader.
The thirty-eight year old is the second youngest member of cabinet after the new Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar.
“I am very proud to be have given this responsibility by the Taoiseach and Tanaiste,” he said, “and I will work day and night to ensure that Louth feels the full impact of our economic recovery.
“Job creation, fair wages and support for indigenous local business will be central to my agenda in government.
“I want to take the politics out of pay. Fianna Fail cut the minimum wage by €1 and we will ensure there will be no more attacks on low-paid workers. The low pay commission will make recommendations on an annual basis to the Government about the appropriate level of the minimum wage and related matters.
“I will be working with employers, trade unions, civil society groups who will be making those recommendations.”
This new role is seen as a key post, not only for trade unions but also employers, and minister Nash was keen to offer his support for all sides.
“I will be supporting small business,” he said. “I ran a small business, but I also worked very closely with trade unions over the years, so I will have a very good network, not just with trade unions, but all civil society organisations as well.
“It is important, regarding the low pay agenda, that we work closely with trade unions and employers, to make sure people get a fair week’s pay for a fair week’s work, and that our economic recovery is not defined by a race to the bottom, that wages are strong, that people can spend money in the economy, thereby supporting communities and small business.
“I want to see a credit flow being made available to small businesses and to make sure people in that sector are aware of what is available to them.”
Minister Nash will have to direct the Government’s plans for collective bargaining through the Dail,and he seems to be all set for the task ahead.
“It’s a great honour to get the call from the Tanaiste,” he said. “Now I have to roll up my sleeves and get down to work.”
The challenge now will be to put more money into the pockets of the low-paid and face the opposition to a higher minimum wage from those who believe it will have an adverse effect on the country’s economic competitiveness.