27 November 2012
Another worsening ‘step change’ for future wage prospects
As year 7 and 8 students from Te Puke’s Pongakawa Primary School gather for a photo on Parliament steps, a first year 19-year-old University student being paid the minimum wage of $13.50 was hard at work behind them cleaning up pigeon droppings.
The particular irony on this day was that simultaneously on the Parliamentary forecourt, three Members of Parliament – Darien Fenton (Labour), Megan Woods (Labour) and Denise Roche (Green Party) – were receiving submissions from the organisers of a campaign to protect fair pay for young people.
The anonymous Parliamentary worker is working and saving for his education. Every dollar he can earn counts directly towards his ability to live and study in 2013.
When asked, he was unaware of the prospect that a proposed law will force earnings by his 16-19 year old peers well below the level of the minimum wage.
“If my pay fell to $10.80 that would be the end of my studies”.
Darien Fenton said the measures contained in the Government’s ‘Starting-out’ Wage bill are taking New Zealand in one direction: “Backwards”.
Denise Roche: “This is a time to be investing in our young people, yet this bill sets young people up to be abused, exploited and discriminated against. Leaving such a short time for submissions is an abuse of process as well”.
Same Work Same Pay spokesperson James Sleep says the Government is wasting a significant amount of time on a wrong-headed policy. “Analysis from Government officials suggest the policy will have very little effect on tackling unemployment. Officials also note that the Government did not consider any other options for tackling the issue of youth unemployment.”
Sleep says the burden of the Government's failure to drive job growth is now being put on young people. "Youth rates failed to create jobs in 1990 when youth unemployment last reached an all time high. National need to pull all levers of Government to deliver apprenticeships, Government supported job placements, comprehensive employment support for all young people and better access to tertiary education."