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Government to Support Youth Bill

Government to Support Youth Bill to Select Committee

---------------------------------

The Labour caucus has agreed to support the referral of Sue Bradford's
Members' Bill abolishing youth wage rates to Select Committee, Labour

Minister Ruth Dyson announced today.

Since it was first elected in 1999, successive Labour-led governments have reviewed and raised the minimum youth and adult wage annually.

In 2001 the Labour-led government lowered the age of eligibility for the adult minimum wage from 20 to 18 years and raised the youth minimum wage in two annual steps from 60% to 80% of the adult minimum.

"Positive though these moves have been, it is obvious that there is a debate to be had on the suitability of paying workers at a different rate for the same job just because of their age. We support that debate being had through the Select Committee," says Ruth Dyson.

While the government has agreed to support the Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination) Amendment Bill to Select Committee stage, it has made no commitment of support for later stages, says Ms Dyson.

The Minister of Labour reviews minimum wage rates annually for adults, youth and trainees, seeking submissions from a wide range of organisations, including employer, union, Pacific, Maori and women's groups.

The minimum adult wage, which applies to people over 18 years, will increase from $9.50 to $10.25 an hour from 27 March 2006, the largest increase since the Labour-led government came into office in 1999.

The minimum youth wage - for workers aged 16 and 17 years - will increase by nearly eight per cent, from $7.60 to $8.20 per hour, to stay at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage. The minimum training wage will increase to the same rate as the youth minimum wage.

Ruth Dyson said the government's goal is for the adult minimum wage to reach $12 an hour by the end of 2008, if economic conditions permit.

ENDS


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