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Minimum wage increase will protect young workers

Office of the Hon Laila Harré
Minister of Women's Affairs
Minister of Youth Affairs
Associate Minister of Commerce
Associate Minister of Labour


Media Statement

March 6 2000

For immediate release

Minimum wage increase will protect young workers

Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harré is rejecting claims that today's minimum wage increase will penalise young and unskilled workers.

Responding to Muriel Newman's claims that the minimum wage increase will "condemn young and first-time workers to the dole", Laila Harré says Act's policy condemns these people to slavery.

"Those advocating no minimum wage are saying that there's no bottom line for the exploitation of workers in exchange for a job, and that the state should pick up the tab in social welfare payments because people can't meet day to day living costs," she says.

"The question that has to be asked is whether a very low or no minimum wage is a legitimate tool for creating jobs, and in my view it isn't."

"When you have a huge surplus of workers – more than 200,000 – this policy can only result in incredibly low wages."

Laila Harré says a Department of Labour estimate that the minimum wage increase will result in 2,500 job losses is being grossly misinterpreted.

The figures this estimate is based on are incomplete.

They don't specify the hours or nature of employment, she says.

"There's a real need for better data, and when you are dealing with such a low percentage increase and such a low minimum wage the consensus is that the overall effect on employment will be negligible," Laila Harré says.

ENDS

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