Alliance Backs Minimum Wage Referendum Plan
Alliance Party media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday 10 February 2009
The Alliance Party is backing plans for a Union-backed referendum to push up the minimum wage to two thirds of the average wage.
Alliance Party industrial relations spokesperson Paul Piesse says the Alliance has called for a minimum wage of $17 per hour and the proposed referendum was broadly in line with that proposal.
The proposed referendum is being put forward by the UNITE Union and the proposed wording would read "Should the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour and then in steps over the next three years until it reaches two-thirds of the average ordinary time hourly rate as recommended by the 1973 Royal Commission into Social Security and the International Labour Organisation?"
Mr Piesse says that the time is right for a broad campaign to lift the minimum wage and the Alliance would support the referendum.
"It is interesting that the Labour Party has begun to call for a $15 per hour minimum wage when it had nine years and good economic conditions to achieve this in Government."
Mr Piesse says that the benefits of ending the social problems of very low wages far outweighed hyped up claims that raises in the minimum wage were unaffordable.
He says the economic stimulus of a lift in income for working New Zealanders would achieve far more than handouts to big business.
"The Alliance says an increase in the minimum wage will boost the economy as low wage people will spend the extra money on basic household items in their local community as opposed to imported luxury items or overseas holidays."
He says that the global failure of free market systems means that it was vital to create an economy that provided a basic level of dignity for all people, not vast profits for a minority.