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Increasing minimum wage is great but youth rates still lag

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Monday, December 19, 2019

Increasing the minimum wage is great but youth rates still discriminate

The minimum wage increase announced yesterday is welcomed by young workers but youth rates still discriminate against young people.

The Young Workers Resource Centre (YWRC) supports the government’s move to shift the wage floor closer to a living wage; but is disappointed the Labour-led coalition still hasn’t fulfilled their campaign promise to abolish youth rates.

“Young workers are already concentrated in the lowest paid jobs and in industries where wage theft is a business model – youth rates are an extra disparity young people should not have to deal with,” YWRC spokesperson Tony Stevens said.

“The Labour Party promised to abolish them if they got into power at the last election and since then we have heard nothing. The research is conclusive on the value of youth rates: they don’t work. If the argument is that they will deliver higher youth employment then they have failed. Quite the opposite is true – when wages are higher for young people, they are more likely to stay in employment longer.

The YWRC questions why the government has not addressed the issue of youth rates considering the research consensus that the starting out rate has not delivered better employment outcomes for young workers.

“If they don’t increase youth employment then why do they exist?” Stevens asked.

“Simply put – having youth rates is just an institutional form of wage theft and age discrimination. There is no place for them in Aotearoa. They must go.”

YWRC hopes that the government will deliver on their promise to young workers in the lead-up to the next election.

ends

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