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Alliance Says Youth rates unfair


Youth rates unfair

The Alliance increased the minimum wage during its term in Government and scrapped youth rates for 18 and 19 year olds.

But Alliance "Staunch" spokesperson Lynda Boyd says 16 and 17 year olds can still be paid 20% less than others doing the same job, and there is no protection at all for under 16-year-olds.

"Paying people a lower wage to do the same job is discrimination. We don't accept women being paid less than men purely on the basis of our gender, and nor should we accept young workers getting paid less, simply because of our age."

The minimum wage for young workers aged 16 or 17 is $7.60 an hour -- 80% of the adult minimum wage of $9.50 an hour.

The Alliance says the minimum wage should reflect the cost of living, including basic expenses such as food and power bills.

"With the cost of petrol rising every week and rents going up, we think a liveable wage is more like $15 an hour."

Ms Boyd, a Christchurch union organiser, says many young workers have no option but to take on low-paid casual jobs in the fast foods industry or in retail where they are often exploited and bullied.

"Employers like young workers because they have no experience of unions, they don't know their rights, and they're easy to push around. All this, and they can pay them less!"

The Alliance says casual and part-time workers need more protection. It should be possible for them to carry over service from job to job so they qualify for sick leave and other minimum entitlements. [ www.alliance.org.nz ]

Ms Boyd also says there should be more democracy in the workplace. "Young workers should have a say in the way their work is organised. That way they'll be more empowered and, hey, managers might even find they have very good ideas." -End-


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