21 December 2004
Minimum Wage Rise a Signal to Employers
Another increase in the minimum wage was a signal to employers to follow the Government’s lead on wages, Council of Trade Unions president Ross Wilson said today.
The adult minimum wage would go up 50c to $9.50 per hour from March 21. The minimum youth wage would increase 40c to $7.60.
“The Government has increased the minimum wage by 5.6 per cent today, yet private sector employers are slow to recognise the need to increase pay – despite persistent skill and labour shortages,” Ross Wilson said.
The minimum wage was frozen at $7 per hour under the last National government. Labour has increased it a total of 36 per cent since 1999.
Increases in the minimum wage alongside low unemployment showed that employer predictions of a rising minimum wage increasing unemployment were wrong, he said.
“The CTU is pushing for it to be lifted again to around $11 per hour – based on restoring the minimum wage to just over 50 per cent of the average wage as it was in 1987.”
Unions were also calling for the youth rate to increase to $10 per hour, alongside a commitment to phase out youth rates.
Today’s increase still left New Zealand trailing Australia, where the minimum rate of AUS$12.30 per hour is 42 per cent higher.