CTU MEDIA RELEASE
29 March 2008
Union campaigning to lift low wages pays off
“Workers campaigninginunions to lift low wages is paying off,” CTU secretary Carol Beaumont said, ahead of the $12 an hour minimum wage coming into effect next week.
“Unions campaigned for a $12 an hour minimum wage, and through agreements between Labour with both the Greens and New Zealand First, this has now fully delivered on it.”
“And with the abolition of youth rates from April 1 also, 16 and 17 year olds will see their minimum wage rise from $9 to $12 after 200 hours or 3 months, whichever is sooner.”
“National frequently talks about the wage gap with Australia but has so far failed to come up with any meaningful solutions. We know that they are on record wanting to cut workers’ conditions, which will reduce wages, but they need to put their money where their mouth is and say how they will lift wages.”
“Over 9 years in the 1990s National increased the minimum wage by only 14 per cent, less than a dollar, and the wage gap with Australia increased by 50%.”
“Over 9 years under Labour led governments, the minimum wage has increased by 71 per cent, or 5 dollars an hour, and the wage gap with Australia has increased by only 1.4%”
“Unions are organising workers through collective agreements to lift wages sustainably across industries, but regular increases in the minimum wage floor are critical to lifting wages also.”
The CTU argues for a three-pronged approach to address low pay, which in addition to lifting the minimum wage to $15 an hour includes strengthening the rights for workers to be covered by industry wide employment agreements and ongoing investment in skills, infrastructure and modernising work practices, Beaumont said.