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Union back call for minimum wage referendum

Maritime Union of New Zealand media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday 10 February 2009

The Maritime Union is backing moves for a referendum on boosting the minimum wage.

Maritime Union of New Zealand spokesperson Victor Billot says the Union has offered its support for the proposed referendum put forward by the Unite Union.

The Unite Union have submitted a request to the Clerk of the House for the right to petition for a referendum on raising the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage.

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 Billot says the problems of low wage work and casualization were serious problems for New Zealand and needed to be sorted out.

He says the spiralling costs of basic goods such as food and housing were putting many working families under immense pressure.

"We are basically looking at a substantial number of low waged workers in New Zealand doing necessary work, and contributing to society, who are being exploited and used to prop up the economy for the benefit of employers."

Mr Billot says the proposed referendum would attract a groundswell of support from workers.

"People are sick of seeing a small elite enrich themselves while others have to struggle with poverty wages."


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