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Greens welcome minimum wage increase

18 December 2007

Greens welcome minimum wage increase

The Green Party is delighted that the Government will honour its commitment to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour in line with Labour's agreements with the Green Party and NZ First after the 2005 election.

"Good on Labour for fulfilling the commitment it made in 2005 to the lowest paid workers in New Zealand," Green Party Industrial Relations spokesperson Sue Bradford says. "This will also make a fantastic difference to thousands of young workers who will see their wages jump thanks to my Minimum Wage (New Entrants) Amendment Bill.

"However, I call on the Government to go the extra mile in 2008, and seriously consider a further wage rise more in line with the $15 an hour the Council of Trade Unions is now calling for.

"With around 200,000 workers on the minimum wage, even with the 75 cents an hour rise planned for next April, taxpayers will still be propping up employers hugely through Working for Families and the Accommodation Supplement.

"And sadly, for most people even the princely sum of $12 an hour isn't enough to live on.

"Basic costs like food, power, housing and transport are beyond the reach of many ordinary workers, and around 20% of our country's children are still living in poverty.

"It is time we moved to set our minimum wages more in line with Australia's - ours are currently at about 70% of theirs.

"We should also peg the minimum wage to the CPI and the median wage as part of the annual review of wage rates, rather than leaving any increases - or decreases for that matter - to the whim of Governments.

"Far too many workers and their families are stuck on the poverty line, living lives of quiet desperation about which most MPs and public servants have little concept.

"We need to get real about what life is really like for those who eke out an existence on or just above the minimum wage in this country.

"I congratulate Labour for sticking to its intentions, and I sincerely hope they will take things a lot further next year," Ms Bradford says.


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