70% Minimum Wage Increase Building Momentum On Making Low Wages History
“A 70 per cent increase in the minimum wage since 1999 helps build momentum to make low wages history,” CTU secretary Carol Beaumont said today.
“This is in stark contrast to National who froze the minimum wage for years during their last term in office, and increased it by only 14%, less than a dollar, over 9 years.”
“New Zealand has an embedded low wage problem , this is widely understood. It is an intrinsic barrier to the economic transformation of New Zealand. We will be campaigning in 2008 to secure commitments from political parties to keep the momentum going on minimum wage increases.”
The CTU argues for a three-pronged approach to address low pay and start lifting the 30% wage gap with Australia, Beaumont said.
“Two months ago unions launched a campaign for a minimum wage set at two-thirds of the average wage, which would mean a $15 minimum wage. We want a debate about what is a socially acceptable minimum wage.”
“But a strategy to lift wages also involves ongoing investment in skills, infrastructure and modernising work practices, and it involves strengthening the rights for workers to be covered by industry and multi-employer collective agreements.”
“Low wages are not just bad for workers. They are damaging to our economy. They hold back investment in capital and technology to improve productivity. New Zealand workers are putting in more hours of work than almost any other OECD country – yet our wages and productivity levels are among the lowest.”
“$12 an hour is a commitment that this Labour-led government made with the Greens and New Zealand First, and it has now fully delivered on it. And with the abolition of youth rates from April 1 also, 16 and 17 year olds will see their minimum wage rise from $9 to $12 after 200 hours or 3 months, whichever is sooner.”
“We look forward to more progress,” Carol Beaumont said.