Expect industrial campaign for a $15 minimum wage says union
Low paying employers can expect an industrial campaign for a $15 minimum wage rate in collective agreements from next year, says the National Distribution Union.
NDU national secretary Laila Harré says that while the union will be campaigning politically during election year for a legislated $15 minimum wage as well as changes to the ERA to promote industry bargaining, strong industrial campaigns will be needed to achieve a $15 pay rates in many collective agreements.
Ms Harré says that the new $12 minimum wage is not high enough.
“If we want to tackle the problem of endemic low pay we should be benchmarking the minimum wage to the two-thirds of the average wage.”
The Government announced today that they will increase the adult minimum wage by 6.7 per cent to $12 an hour next April, an increase of 71 per cent from $7 when they took office in 1999.
Ms Harré says that while workers are happy with any help they can get, the April increase would only give adult minimum wage workers currently working 40 hours a week on $11.25 up to an extra $30 a week .
“Let’s get real, a $12 minimum wage rate – which unions called for in 2005 – is not a livable wage for workers in 2008,” she says. “Wages haven’t caught up with the loss of industry-wide bargaining and penal rates in the early 90s, the cost of living continues to skyrocket and the gap between rich and poor is expanding with one-fifth of our children living in poverty. Inequality remains for women, youth, pacific islanders, Maori and migrant workers because the minimum wage jobs they are overrepresented in, such as retail, hospitality, cleaning and servicing, continue to be undervalued.”
Ms Harré says that a minimum wage set at two-thirds of the average wage would bring it into line with recommendations made in 1973 by the Royal Commission into Social Security, the International Labour Organisation and the European Social Standard.
When the minimum wage was first introduced in 1946, it was 83 per cent of the average wage.
“At the end of the day, workers can only guarantee themselves a livable wage by fighting for it with co-workers in their unions to build a social movement that can win our demands in the workplace and with the government of the day.”