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Students commended for 'strike' action

20 March 2006

Students commended for 'strike' action

A planned walkout and rally by Auckland school students in support of a Bill to abolish youth pay rates has the support of the Bill's sponsor, Green Party Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford.

"Senior school students aged 16 and 17 are among the worst affected by discriminatory youth rates, so it is not surprising that they feel strongly about this issue. I commend Radical Youth for organising this protest," Ms Bradford says.

"We should remember that these students don't have the right to vote, so they have to find other ways to voice their political opinions. 'Striking' from school is one visible and powerful way they can do this.

"This action is part of a broader movement for an end to low wages, which have a huge social and economic impact on New Zealand society. Engaging with this issue through such clearly focussed political action is likely to be as much a critical learning experience for these students as attending today's classes - although of course it's important not to make a habit of skipping school!

The students' action is also being welcomed by the Young Greens, who take issue with comments by New Zealand Secondary School Principals Association President Graeme Young suggesting that the 'striking' students are being exploited by a protest movement.

"This action has been organised independently by students. It is great to see them being proactive on this issue and taking the initiative," Young Greens Spokesperson Gareth Hughes says.

"They are sending a strong message that they don't want to be paid less just because of their age.

Sue Bradford's Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination) Amendment Bill is currently before the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee, and submissions close on 21 April.

"With so much vocal support for this Bill, MPs from all the parties will surely get the message that the time has come to put an end to this archaic discrimination against 16 and 17 year old workers on the basis of age alone," Ms Bradford says.

"I hope to see lots of 16 and 17 year old workers, including some of those 'striking' today, making their own oral and written submissions to the select committee. Being able to have a direct input into the democratic process is another valuable learning opportunity!

ENDS

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