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End to youth rates welcomed, income rises too low

1 April 2008

End to youth rates welcomed, but income rises too low

Thanks to a Green Party Member's Bill, young New Zealanders can be assured that, from today, they will be paid the same as their adult colleagues for doing the same job.

The Bill, sponsored by MP Sue Bradford, ends discriminatory minimum wages for young workers aged 16 and 17. From today, young people will receive the same rate of pay as their adult colleagues once they have completed 200 hours in the workforce.

"I am delighted that from now on young people won't be subject to widespread and automatic discrimination in many workplaces," Ms Bradford says.

The Green Party also welcomes the rise in the adult minimum wage from $11.25 to $12 an hour, much needed by the all too many workers who are still paid the absolute minimum by their employers or close to it.

"However, as we all know the costs of fuel, food and accommodation are skyrocketing at the moment, so the increase in the minimum wage is not likely to have much impact.

"$12 an hour is nowhere near enough to live on or support a family. Family Support is available to working parents with children - but single adults are not eligible, and beneficiary parents and their children continue to suffer discrimination because they don't get the In Work payment.

Benefits rise today as well, but the increase, while linked to the CPI, does nothing to restore the gap which opened up between wages and the true cost of living when National cut benefits in 1991.

The Green Party calls on the Government to heed the call of church leaders last Friday for a society which reduces the gap between rich and poor, not extends it.

"The fairest thing a socially responsible Government could do is to increase the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour and raise benefits to levels people can actually live on in 2008, rather than leaving people to sink deeper and deeper into debt and homelessness."


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