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Young Greens campaign for Sue's Bill

9 December 2005

Young Greens campaign for Sue's Youth Rate Abolition Bill

The Young Greens will be strongly campaigning in support of Sue Bradford's Youth Rate Abolition Bill, Green Party Youth Affairs Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

Ms Bradford's private member's Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination) Amendment Bill was placed in and then drawn from the parliamentary ballot yesterday and will now go to the House for consideration

"Youth are expected by employers to work just as hard, efficiently and productively as their better-paid counterparts," Mrs Turei says.

"Ruth Dyson, the Minister of Labour, recently said that if a 17-year-old was doing the same work as someone aged 25, they had a strong case for the same wage. We will be reminding her and her Government of that statement in the debate ahead."

Young Greens Spokesperson George Darroch says youth rates are discrimination purely on the basis of age.

"We have a very strong case for the same pay rates. Society does not accept discrimination on grounds that have no bearing on the ability to work, and this is no different.

"The lower pay rates of 16 and 17-year-olds drive down everyone's wages and are used by employers to threaten their staff. Youth supplant more costly older employees because of their lower pay and casualised employment conditions, which in turn reduces job security across the whole work force" Mr Darroch says.

"High school students are often required to work long hours in evenings and weekends to support their families, who are themselves often facing the same wage issues. A student who has to work longer hours to receive the same pay is at a disadvantage educationally, something which has wide social implications.

"These low wages do not reflect the cost of living and the consequences are more New Zealanders facing poverty and dependence. One in five children in New Zealand live in poverty, a shocking number. Until structures that perpetuate this problem, such as youth rates, are abolished the problem will not disappear.

"Businesses have argued that they can afford higher wages, but that to offer them in isolation would put them at a competitive disadvantage. This Bill allows them to do the right thing.

"We thank the Council of Trade Unions for their backing of this bill, and we call on Parliament and all New Zealanders to support equal pay for equal work," Mr Darroch says.

ENDS

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