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Minimum Wage increase sign of effective pressure

Press Release Unite Union

Minimum Wage increase sign of effective public and union pressure

The rise of the minimum wage today from $11.25 an hour to $12.00 is the result of strong union campaigning and workers’ determination, according to Unite Union General Secretary Matt McCarten.

"In 2006 Unite launched the SuperSizeMyPay campaign and put the demand for $12 minimum wage as top priority with the abolition of youth rates," he said.

"Now in 2008, we see the Government complying with the minimum wage rise and many companies like Restaurant Brands and McDonald's agreeing to get rid of youth rates completely.

"Without these kinds of campaigns and the public support that they develop, companies and the Government would not be forced to change.

"People can directly influence policy by becoming involved and making it clear what they want collectively and we have seen evidence of this with the new minimum wage legislation.

"A significant aspect of this wage rise is the fact that for years people have been living on less than a liveable wage. While a $12 minimum is a move towards a fair and liveable wage for working people, the reality is that it is still not a sustainable amount of money.

For many years the minimum wage in New Zealand was around two-thirds to three-quarters of the average after it was first introduced in 1945. Following a Royal Commission recommendation it was set least two thirds of the average wage in 1973 which is also the European Social Standard. This represents about $15 an hour today and restoring the minimum wage to this level help attack low wage poverty in New Zealand.

"While getting rid of youth rates and increasing the minimum wage to $12 an hour are two important victories, we will continue to push towards a $15 minimum wage for all as our next goal," McCarten concluded.


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