by Denise Roche
As I predicted in my blog post
last week, John Key’s Government has announced today what amounts to a nil increase in the minimum wage – a paltry
increase of 50c an hour. The nominal increase is 3.8% – but at the same time the Consumer Price Index increased 4.6% in
the year to September 2011 and 1.8% in the year to December 2011. So it is not “boosting incomes” at all, as Minister of
Labour Kate Wilkinson claims
, it is just keeping pace with inflation.
50c an hour is not going to help the people that need it most – people like the Bradley family who were profiled
in the Herald this week, where dad is having to work three jobs just to feed the family. And even so, the parents are
having to go without food some days just to feed the kids.
What we need in this country is a living wage – one which pays enough for families to be able to feed and clothe their
children, pay the rent or mortgage, pay the power, phone and doctor’s bills, and not slide into debt when something
The Government will tell you that increasing the minimum wage to a decent level will cost jobs. Indeed, last year John Key claimed
that increasing it to $15 an hour would cost 6000 jobs. This has not been shown to be true – in fact the NZ Council of
Trade Unions has done an extensive literature review
which indicates there is no clear evidence, either internationally or in New Zealand, of a causal relationship between
moderate increases in the minimum wage and employment or unemployment levels. But, despite the evidence not supporting
John Key’s claim, Minister Wilkinson is still banging on
about the fictional 6000 job losses.
What we do know is that hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders are experiencing poverty and hardship on a daily basis –
and on this basis 50c simply doesn’t cut it.
The Green Party wants to see an increase in the minimum wage, first to $15 an hour and eventually to two thirds of the
average wage. This will help both reduce inequality and poverty and reduce the reliance of many low-income New
Zealanders on taxpayer-funded financial support.
We need to lift wages across the board. We need a Government that will actually care about families struggling to get by
in New Zealand.
Published in Economy, Work, & Welfare
by Denise Roche on Wed, February 8th, 2012