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David Cunliffe: Minimum and Living Wage Pledge

David Cunliffe: Minimum Wage, Living Wage Pledge

David Cunliffe's speech to the Council of Trade Unions conference in Wellington – 9 October 2013

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By Hamish Cardwell

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A fired up David Cunliffe said Labour would raise the minimum wage and was committed to a living wage for government employees in one of his first major speeches as Labour Leader.

Speaking at a Council of Trade Unions conference in Wellington Mr Cunliffe said that if Labour won the 2014 election it would also extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks, scrap youth wage rates, and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.



At a press standup following his speech, Mr Cunliffe said provisions for a “living wage”, initially for all government employees, would be included in their first budget subject to the “provisions of fiscal responsibility”. It would then be rolled out to crown entities and then to government contractors.

Labour would develop a a certified living wage employer scheme, and would give preference of procurement contracts to employers who signed up to the scheme.

He said raising the minimum wage to $15 dollars would come at a “relatively modest cost”.

Labour intended to extend paid parental leave out to 26 weeks and aimed to instigate this “reasonable soon into their first term” but they would need to have a look at the state of the government's books.

The youth employment rate and the “right to fire” legislation could both be gone within Labour's first 100 days of government, Me Cunliffe said.

He said people had come to him begging for there to be a change of government.


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MP3 format or in OGG format.


David Cunliffe's Speech

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David Cunliffe gave his speech at the Council of Trade Unions biennial conference where, earlier, council president Helen Kelly had released a report detailing how “insecure” employment for New Zealand workers was placing families under pressure.


David Cunliffe Speech ( Part 1) to CTU Biennial Conference, 9 October 2013

David Cunliffe Speech ( Part 2) to CTU Biennial Conference, 9 October 2013


Mr Cunliffe looked relaxed and confident and received a standing ovation at the end of a speech where he promised to “turn back the tide of anti-worker legislation” put forward by the Key government.

He said the Labour Party was part of the history of the Labour movement.

“We will be a true red party not a pale blue one.”

Too many New Zealand families were being wrecked by insecure work, or people were having to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, he said.

“Everybody who is working in New Zealand ought to be able to support their family's with dignity.

Earning a living wage was “a non-negotiable part of the kiwi dream”.

Labour was committed to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and would seek to increase that further when the country could afford it.

Labour would also instigate a “living wage”, starting with the core public service which he estimated would cost $30 million per year.

Paid parental leave would be extended to 26 weeks, the youth wage scraped, and the 90-day workers probation period law repealed.

“John Keys attacks on workers will be gone by lunchtime.”

Mr Cunliffe said the New Zealand economy needed to move from a cost-based to a value-based strategy which would require investment from the government.

He called for unions to rally the “missing million” who did not vote at the 2011 election.

“If one quarter [of them] make the decision to vote we have won the election.”


Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in either
MP3 format or in OGG format.


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