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Cost of living increase reflects worker sentiment

Media Release: National Distribution Union
Monday July 18, 2011

Cost of living increase reflects worker sentiment

Today’s cost of living statistics reflect what workers have been feeling over the last few months, a union representing low wage workers said today.

The National Distribution Union will tomorrow start a round of 40 member meetings across New Zealand, where members will hear a report that workers in unions are helping to keep up with cost pressures by winning wage increases well above the national average.

“Today’s figures echo what workers are saying at the moment. These cost of living increases are not only last October’s GST rise remaining, but pressure points on food, petrol and other items also,” NDU General Secretary Robert Reid said.

“Unless their wages are keeping up, then it is low wage workers who suffer the most from this cost of living pressure.”

Robert Reid said that the only way for workers to keep up with rising costs was to see increases in their wages, and in this area the contrast between unionised workers and non-union workers was stark.

“Wage and salary rates rose only 1.8 per cent for workers in the past year, but members of our union have usually negotiated increases that better help them meet rising costs.”

“We have been getting settlements of around the 5 per cent figure in major retail chains recently, and similar increases in other sectors like food and beverage manufacturing, infrastructure and textiles.”

“We are having trouble however with some of the major wood processing companies refusing to make offers above 2 per cent, even though there has been some positive turnaround in the pulp and paper and wood processing industries in recent months.”

“Workers not in unions will find their wages are in fact going backwards, as they struggle to keep up with inflation. It is clear that it pays to be in a union,” Robert Reid said.

“It is also absolutely the wrong time for National and Act to be talking about reducing the minimum wage for young workers. The minimum wage needs to go up for all workers to $15 an hour immediately,” he said.

Ends.

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