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Young workers' raw pay deal must end - Bradford

Young workers' raw pay deal must end - Bradford

Young people in the workforce should be paid the same as their adult workmates, says Green Party MP Sue Bradford, whose new private member's bill may soon end this inequity.

Ms Bradford, the Greens' Industrial Relations Spokesperson, is launching her Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination) Amendment Bill tomorrow (Thurs 8 Dec).

The Bill will be placed in the ballot, and if drawn, aims to remove wage discrimination for 16 and 17 year-olds and opens up to public scrutiny and debate the whole question of why these young people have a lower minimum wage than workers 18 and over.

Current minimum wage rates are $7.60 per hour for 16 and 17 year-olds, and $9.50 for those 18 and over.

"There is no earthly reason why a 17 year-old filling cars with petrol at a service station or a 16 year-old retail assistant should be receiving nearly $2 an hour less than 18 year-olds working beside them doing exactly the same job. The work is the same, the employer expectation is the same, and the costs of food, clothing, transport and other essentials of life are the same whether you're 16, 17 or 18 years old.

"My Bill continues to recognise that there are a few situations in which paying a lower minimum wage to apprentices and to those who are genuine trainees is acceptable - what I am trying to end is discrimination on the grounds of age where people are engaged in work.

"I believe that this discrimination is arbitrary, inequitable and unjustifiable under the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

"If my Bill is drawn from the ballot I will be expecting the Labour, New Zealand First and Maori parties in particular to vote for it as their industrial relations policies talk about the need to show more support for low wage workers," Ms Bradford says.

"I also expect backing for my Bill from trade unions, including the Unite! union which is engaged in a major street level campaign aimed at ending wage discrimination on the grounds of age - and hope for backing from the Mayors' Taskforce for Jobs which also came out earlier this week calling for $12 minimum wage.

"It is high time we ended this archaic discrimination between workers on the grounds of age - we did it for women, it's about time we did it for young workers," Ms Bradford says.

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