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Key caught telling the truth about dropping wages

Key caught telling the truth about dropping wages

20 February 2008

Darien Fenton - General Debate

We have seen an extraordinary event in the National Party. John Key has been caught telling the truth.

He's been caught out owning up to his real views on the wages of ordinary working people - he wants to see them drop. National wants to cut their pay. Now there's a great election slogan - vote for National and vote for a pay cut.

John Key has confirmed what we already know. National doesn't really believe in wages going up for the ordinary worker - and they have no idea what to do about it anyway.

John Key says that National will cut taxes. And hey presto, that will mean higher wages. Well, no it won't. He says that National will lift wages by driving economic growth. What the heck does that mean?

I want to know how National will make sure that growth and the wealth that workers help create is passed onto them in better wages. Or are workers supposed to hope that economic growth will somehow trickle down into their pay packets?

Increasing wages requires real measures like this Labour led government has introduced, such as :

* Annual increases to the minimum wage, including the confirmation of $12 an hour minimum wage from 1 April

* 14 weeks paid parental leave

* Four weeks annual leave, so workers can enjoy rest and recreation with their families.

* Fair and decent compensation for working on public holidays

* Strengthening Health and Safety and labour laws

* Protecting vulnerable workers in situations of contracting out or change of employment.

And that's why the gap between Australian wages and New Zealand wages has stopped sliding under this government. Active labour market policies, not National's anything goes, take it or leave it, tough luck if you are a low paid worker with little bargaining power approach.

National has a shameful record on wages. They slashed Kiwis take home pay in the 1990's and made sure their friends got richer at the expense of working people.

The gap between Australian and NZ wages grew by 50.4 percent between 1990 and 1999. Real Wages grew by just 0.3% in nine years.

And that meant misery for the people that John Key now pretends he cares about.

By 1999 caregivers, cleaners, hospital workers, retail workers, factory and many other workers, were earning less than they had 10 years before.

In many cases, the hourly rate hardly moved, but weekend rates, overtime pay, allowances, sickleave entitlements and annual leave were slashed. It meant the families of those workers lived struggled to make ends meet, it meant they had to work two and three jobs, it meant they had to work longer and work faster and harder.

National seems to be firmly committed to the same old low wage, low skill, work until we drop economic model we had back then. And John Key's just confirmed it.

Now we know that John Key would love wages to drop so what about the rest of National's plan to do over New Zealand workers once again.

When will National come clean about their real agenda for workers in this country? They can't soft soap working people forever. When will the 90 day bill, the freezing of minimum wages and a sale of annual leave be announced again? When will they tell the people about their plans for ACC and for scaling back workers' rights.

John Key's been caught telling the truth about wages.

It's time to tell the truth about the rest of it.


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