New minimum wage rise far too little - Bradford

Published: Wed 22 Dec 2004 10:37 AM
New minimum wage rise far too little - Bradford
While the Green Party has welcomed the Government’s announcement that minimum wages will rise to $9.50 an hour for adults and $7.60 an hour for 16 and 17-year-olds from March next year, Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford says the new rates are still far too low.
“The minimum wage should be lifted to $12 an hour for all workers and this needs to be done now, not in March,” said Ms Bradford. “Hundreds of thousands of workers are still being expected to survive, and in many cases support their families, on wages that are well under 50% of the average wage.
"To bring New Zealand workers up to the same level as their Australian counterparts, the minimum rate would need to be more than $13 an hour. To bring the level up to 50% of the average New Zealand wage, they would need to receive at least $11 an hour.
"Many in this country do not realise quite how low our wage rates have fallen after 20 years of economic restructuring and massive deunionisation.
“At a time when many employers have difficulty finding staff, it is ridiculous that minimum wages remain so low, and that the Government has to spend so much taxpayer money propping up employers through various forms of family support and the accommodation supplement.”
Ms Bradford said employers should be forced to pay more towards what it costs people to provide themselves and their families with basic food, clothing and shelter, rather than counting on the massive taxpayer subsidies currently going in.
“And I'd have more sympathy for politicians calling for tax cuts if they also called for minimum wages to be raised to a level where fewer current employer subsidies were longer required.
“Raising the minimum wage to at least $12 an hour is a key step that our country needs to take to help lift a generation of children out of poverty. I call on the Government to have the courage of its convictions and take a somewhat bolder step than the one announced this week.
“Raising wages would also return people’s dignity. For a variety of reasons, we have large numbers of decent, hardworking people performing important but low paid roles in our communities. A lot more has to be done to support this group.”

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