CTU media release
18 April 2011
High price increases another blow for workers
“Soaring prices from the GST increase plus steep increases in some necessities like food and fuel are another blow to workers already suffering from stagnating wages, high unemployment and attacks on their rights at work. They highlight the unsustainability of low wage levels in this country” said CTU President Helen Kelly in response to today’s announcement of a 4.5 percent increase to the Consumer Price Index.
“There are thousands of workers and their families who have been struggling to make ends meet since the recession began three years ago,” said Kelly. “The Government gave tax cuts to those on the highest incomes while putting up the tax on food and other essentials. This has made life even tougher for those on low incomes. Many are trying to get extra hours of paid work to help make ends meet while others are out of work, and many are resorting to foodbanks for support,” Kelly said.
There were 158,000 people unemployed in December, another 110,000 jobless and on top of that, over 100,000 who wanted more work, making around 370,000 people needing jobs or more work.
“On top of that on 1 April workers’ right to a fair deal from their employers, including wage increases, was knocked by the government’s unfair changes to employment rights,” she said.
Today’s inflation news proves what workers are already feeling - that their wages need to stretch further and further to pay for everyday necessities. Vegetable prices have risen by 12.1 percent in the past year, milk, cheese and eggs by 8.8 percent, petrol by 17.1 percent, and electricity by 6.0 percent.”
“These hard times are made worse by government failure to take the right actions to pull New Zealand out of recession.”
“In the May Budget, the Government needs to do more to help struggling workers, beneficiaries and their families. Giving them more spending power will help the economy pull out of the recession more quickly. Along with helping workers who have lost their jobs in the Christchurch earthquake, that is the most urgent priority for the government,” Kelly concluded.