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Greens back youth rates bill despite tinkering

25 July 2007

Greens back youth rates bill despite tinkering

The Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination) Amendment Bill is back in the House today and the Green Party is urging all parties to support its process through Parliament although the bill has been altered.

"I'm upset some young workers would still have to face extremely unfair and low youth rates. Two hundred hours at the youth pay rate, as suggested by the select committee, might not sound long to some older people but for young and part-time workers including those still at school it could mean up to nine months on low pay," Green Party Industrial Relations spokesperson and sponsor of the Bill, Sue Bradford says.

Although the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, by majority vote, has declined some of the Greens efforts to end age-based discrimination in employment, Ms Bradford says she is heartened the committee supports the basic premise on which the Bill is based.

"I wanted to amend the Minimum Wage Act 1983 by removing the opportunity of employers to set minimum wage rates defined by age of workers with particular reference to 16 and 17 year olds and the majority of the committee believed 'the premise upon which it [the Bill] is based is right'. This gives me hope that as the Bill passes through its further stages, compromise can be reached to strengthen it and protect the young of this country.

"Many have already worked at checkout counters, takeaway outlets, petrol stations and elsewhere for long periods before turning 16 and the argument used by some in the select committee that young workers need orientation and training in a new job is not always true.

"Certainly MPs such as myself and those on the committee needed much more 'orientation and training' when entering Parliament and no-one suggested our wages be docked in the interim," Ms Bradford says.


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