20 March 2005
Minimum Wage Must Keep Climbing
The minimum wage rises tomorrow, but even this latest improvement still leaves minimum wages at less than half of the average wage, Council of Trade Unions secretary Carol Beaumont said today.
The adult minimum wage goes up 5.6 per cent to $9.50 per hour, with the rate for 16 and 17-year-olds rising to $7.60 per hour. The changes will benefit about 35,000 adult workers and 6,500 youth workers.
“The minimum wage is a vital safety net for these workers but at its current level of 47 per cent of the average wage, it is far too low,” Carol Beaumont said. “Many are forced to work excessive hours as they struggle to support their families.”
In submissions to the Government, the CTU has said the minimum wage should initially go up to $11.05 per hour, which would put it at just over half of the average wage – the level it was in 1987.
“The Government should then set an objective to phase in a minimum wage equivalent to two-thirds of the average wage, and phase out youth rates altogether.”
Workers in unions were claiming decent pay rises as part of their fair share of the country’s economic growth.
“Union advocacy for a higher minimum wage complements our campaign for higher wages through collective bargaining,” Carol Beaumont said.