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Campaign to lift life chances for poorest children

Creative new campaign to lift life chances for poorest children

A vibrant new campaign to lift the wages of NZ's lowest-paid workers harnesses the best of activism old and new, says Child Poverty Action Group's Donna Wynd. CPAG supports the campaign because it says an adequate minimum wage and secure work hours are needed for our poorest children’s life chances to improve.

The campaign is being funded by fast food industry workers and is named after its website, SuperSizeMyPay.com. It is supported by CPAG and other leading voices for social change, many of them experienced and eloquent veterans of the 'economic correctness' struggles which began in the eighties and nineties.

The website shows how ordinary kiwis online can help make a difference to workers struggling to bring up children on a minimum wage that is not only unsustainably low at $10.25 per hour, but also insecure. Workers report hours fluctuating anywhere between 20 and 60 hours per week, often with no notice.

These low wages mean some parents need two or more jobs just to make ends meet. The SuperSizeMyPay campaign is calling for an end to insecure hours and an immediate increase to the minimum wage to $12 per hour.

"Children's health and education suffer potentially life-long effects from the kind of poverty and parental over-employment we are seeing. Worse, there is not an adequate safety net in place for those who can't sustain the precarious balancing act required to juggle parenting and insecure, underpaid employment," says Wynd.

"Tax relief for families with children will be pretty generous as of April 1st, but it is stringently work-tested. Those on benefits get nothing at all this year and the In Work Payment cuts out completely whenever a couple can't work a 30 hour week, or a sole parent can't work 20. It makes no provision for sick children or any of the other crises that all families encounter from time to time" she says.

"Everyone knows that security is what counts for children - all the more so for the most vulnerable. Minimum wages and tax relief need to take that into account."

The campaign has had some notable successes so far, including the world's first-ever Starbucks strike and colourful demonstrations on work-sites and at Parliament which have achieved international coverage. It aims to capitalise on this with big public rallies in main centres, including one at Auckland's Town Hall this Sunday, February 12th, at 2pm.

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