Press Release: National Distribution Union (NDU)
Tuesday, 11th of July
Report Reinforces Need for $12 Minimum Wage and Secure Hours
Today's Ministry of Social Development report was unsurprising, but reconfirmed the immediate need for a $12 minimum wage, an end to youth rates and secure hours, says the National Distribution Union.
National Secretary, Laila Harre, says that the report showing a drop in living standards for people on low income was due to the continuing effect of anti-union and anti-beneficiary legislation from the 1990's.
"That young supermarket workers now earn 40% less in real wages than they did in the early 1990's is directly attributable to the Employment Contracts Act," she said. "It is also unsurprising that the report shows an increase in the number of Pacific Islander's and Maori in hardship when they are more likely to be your local supermarket checkout operator on low or minimum wages."
Ms Harre said that the report reinforced the fact that low wages were a key driver of poverty and was pleased that the report was taking into account the effect of disruption to family life in which insecure hours play a significant role.
"New Zealand is in a low-wage crisis and until companies redistribute their profits and the Government lifts the minimum wage to $12 for everyone immediately, the issue of poverty can not be properly addressed," she said.
Ms Harre said the already dire situation was being exacerbated by the skyrocketing cost of living, which has seen a 40% increase in house prices since 2001 and an increase in debt and a drop in savings.
"You've got to keep in mind that for most low paid workers, if you ever get a pay increase, it will most likely be under inflation or tied to legal changes in the minimum wage - unless, of course, you are in a Union," she said.
Ms Harre said that the hundreds of workers joining Progressive union members (who already earn higher than non-unionised supermarkets) in their ShelfRespect.org campaign, showed that workers weren't waiting for government legislation and were joining the National Distribution Union to win their demands industrially.
The National Distribution Union starts negotiations with Progressive on the 19th and 20th of July.