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Labour announces unemployment policy

Hon Simon Bridges

Minister of Labour

30 July 2014 Media Statement
Labour announces unemployment policy

Labour’s intention to increase the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage would hurt business, cost jobs and reduce growth, Labour Minister Simon Bridges says.

“Labour’s policy to immediately increase the minimum wage to $16.25 would cost at least 6,000 jobs, and a wage of $18 would cost around 19,000 16,500. If you want to make people unemployed this is a good way to go about it,” Mr Bridges says.

“Setting the minimum wage represents a careful balance between protecting low-paid workers and ensuring jobs are not lost. You cannot legislate your way to higher wages with the stroke of a pen.

“If it’s not based on increased productivity, simply paying people higher wages is a cost that gets passed on to New Zealanders as higher taxes, reduced competitiveness, inflation and fewer jobs.

“Labour’s promise to scrap National’s successful 90-day trial legislation would also cost thousands of jobs. Research showed that a third of employers who used the trial period would not have hired a new employee without it. And an overwhelming majority of employers have kept staff on after the trial period ended.

“As for Labour’s promise to pay all core public service workers at least the Living Wage: why should core government employees — who only represent about two per cent of the workforce — earn more than a private sector employee doing a similar job?

“Labour’s promise to implement industry standard agreements is a return to the 1970s and is a cynical payback to the Unions for their support.

“It would require all regional employers to pay the same pay rates as one in downtown Auckland. That would cause real damage to regional economies.

“This Government is achieving strong job growth by operating flexible labour market policies that encourage employers to take on new workers.

“Flexibility, choice and fairness in the labour market helps create jobs, increase wages and encourages innovation, and it is critical for supporting a stronger and more productive economy,” Mr Bridges says.

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