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Young Workers Face Wage Squeeze


13 May 2005

Young Workers Face Wage Squeeze

Some employers are responding to increases in the adult minimum wage by attempting to pay their young workers the minimum youth rate, Council of Trade Unions youth council organiser Nadine Rae said today.

Young union representatives gather in Wellington today for a two-day meeting to discuss issues relating to young workers. They will be joined by CTU president Ross Wilson and secretary Carol Beaumont, as well as a number of MPs.

The adult minimum wage for workers aged 18 and over is $9.50 per hour. The youth minimum wage of $7.60 per hour applies to 16 and 17-year-olds. The CTU has called for the youth rate to be scrapped.

“It’s hard enough to get by on the adult minimum wage, let alone the youth rate,” Nadine Rae said.

“Youth rates are used more widely in some sectors than in others, but we are increasingly seeing young workers being offered the youth rate instead of the adult rate, for doing exactly the same job.

“Employers who don’t value their workers can’t expect to hold on to them in a competitive labour market with low unemployment.”

Many young workers faced a huge struggle to make ends meet and they would continue to look overseas for better pay and job opportunities as long as pay rates stayed low in New Zealand, she said.

“Young people are looking for an opportunity to learn more skills so they can develop their careers and earn a decent wage.

“Unions are working with Government and business to transform the economy into one that values the skills and contribution of its labour force and will offer long-term prospects for today’s young workers.”


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