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More Work, Less Pay

Thursday, 10 August 2006

More Work, Less Pay

Celebrations over record low unemployment should not be allowed to hide chronic low wages, says the National Distribution Union.

Statistics NZ’s Household Labour Force Survey out this morning shows unemployment is at the lowest level in 20 years, (3.6% - equal to the position in February) and the labour force grew by 0.7 per cent in the previous 3 months.

National Secretary Laila Harré said that more people were in the workforce working for less pay.

“While New Zealand may have unemployment levels that haven’t been seen since the 1980’s, something else we haven’t seen since then are wages and conditions that guarantee all workers a decent standard of living,” she said. “Despite having the second lowest unemployment levels in the OECD, one million New Zealanders continue to live in hardship.”

Ms Harré said that attacks on unions through the Employment Contracts Act in the 1990’s and a substandard minimum wage were to blame.

Between 1991 and 1994 youth wages in supermarket were cut by 44% and adult wages by 11%.

“Serious hardship has created a mass pool of easily exploitable workers. This year’s profits and record CEO salaries are a clear indicator of who benefits from maintaining poor work conditions,” she said.

But unions and workers are fighting back, Ms Harré said.

The National Distribution Union is joining the Auckland rally against National’s 90 Day “No Rights” Bill on the 23rd of August, Aotea Square at 12.30pm.

Supermarket workers from the ShelfRespect.org campaign will be holding their 5th custom awareness protests outside Browns Bay Foodtown this Saturday the 12th at 3pm.


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