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Headline: Minimum wage now the maximum wage for thousands

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“The announcement today of a fifty cent per hour increase for the thousands of workers now completely reliant on it as the pay setting mechanism shows a disrespect for the families of this country,” says CTU President Helen Kelly.

“The increase comes in on 1 April, and will barely cover the loss of the two ten minute tea breaks that occurs on 6 March across NZ workplaces. That means people could be working 4.3% longer in an 8 hour day for the same pay.”

“Over 300,000 workers are now on or near the minimum wage as collective bargaining rights have been decimated, insecure work arrangements have become widespread and unfettered migration has been allowed to flood low paid, low skill work areas.  What Government is clearly saying today is – expect more of this.”

“The Government’s own press release wrongly suggests higher minimum wages in NZ will cost jobs when a large body of research suggests this is a false link, but regardless its own statement that a rate of $15.50 would cost 5000 jobs suggests they should have at least moved to this rate.  Last year 22,000 foreign student visas and 15,000 working holiday visas were issued with all of these workers being able to take low paid jobs in this country. If a small reduction in these numbers meant real relief in wages for the low paid, this should happen immediately.”

“Yesterday new figures were released for a living wage, with the rate identified at $19.25. The mean-spirited increase announced today means thousands of hard working families facing another year of struggling to make ends meet.  The economy can afford higher pay increases. From the bottom of the recession in 2009 to 2013, productivity rose 10.1% but real wages rose only 1.5%. Workers are due a big catch-up.”

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