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Change to wage order another gift to bad employers

Darien
FENTON

Associate Labour Issues Spokesperson
29 May 2014 MEDIA STATEMENT

Change to wage order another gift to bad employers

The Government’s decision to allow employers to pay a fortnightly minimum wage rate will inevitably lead to more exploitation of low income and vulnerable workers, Labour’s Associate Labour Issues spokesperson Darien Fenton says.

“The Government has caved into the farmers’ lobby, so they can legitimise their practices of putting low paid workers on minimum wage salaries and have them work extremely long hours.

“Apparently they threatened to casualise their industry. That is shocking given a recent MBIE review found 31 of 44 farmers randomly inspected did not comply with basic employment standards.

“Labour Minister Simon Bridges obviously didn’t consider the impact this would have on other industries that pay minimum wage, or close to it.

“A fortnightly minimum rate will encourage employers in low margin industries to convert low paid hourly workers to all-inclusive salaries, giving them even more flexibility than they already have and creating more uncertainty and insecurity for workers.

“This comes at the same time the Government is about to pass laws allowing small employers to opt out of protections for so-called 'vulnerable workers'.

“The Minimum Wage Act is there to provide minimum employment terms and conditions and to avoid the exploitation of workers with little or no bargaining power.

“We are not talking about large incomes here. We are talking about workers earning $14.25 an hour, or less if they are under 18. Now Simon Bridges wants to reduce that as well.

“This move by National will put another nail in the coffin of decent work and protection for New Zealand’s low income and insecure workers; a sector Labour has vowed to support with policies to raise the minimum wage and strengthen protections for.”


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