Media Release from Unite Union January 24, 2016
While welcoming an increase in the minimum wage by 50 cents an hour to $15.75, Mike Treen of Unite Union says that this new level only maintains its value at about 50% of the average wage.
"This level was reached in 2008 and we need to be more ambitious as a society. We believe the goal should be $20 or two-thirds of the average wage
"The current consumer price index is almost meaningless when it come to what people have to spend in this country to live. After rent and power have been paid there is barely enough left for food and other necessities.
"There are widespread and unacceptable levels of poverty in this country and inequality is getting out of control. One way to address those issues in a meaningful way is to progressively increase the minimum wage in real terms."
New York protest for increase in minimum wage and a union.
"Today’s announcement will still mean workers unable to survive on a full-time wage.
"The proposed minimum wage level still means that someone working a 40-hour week is only getting $630 before tax. Tens of thousand of workers have no guaranteed hours in their contracts and work fewer than 40 hours a week.
"Minimum wage announcements are an entirely political process.
"The minimum wage is currently about 52% of the average wage. It reached this level under a Labour-led government in 2008 and has been maintained at that level by National.
"The previous national government, however, increased the minimum only once in nine years and allowed it to decline to around one-third of the average wage in real terms.
"The minimum wage has been as high as 80% of the average wage in 1946 when it was first introduced and was 66% in April 1973.
"There is no reason economically why it could not be returned to that level. Current CTU policy is for a minimum wage of two-thirds of the average wage and indexed in law at that level. This is the case for National Superannuation payments which are indexed so that the couple rate is at least 66% of the net average wage.
"The average wage will be almost exactly $30 by the time the December release is made.
"An increase in the minimum wage to $20 an hour in real terms was supported at the last election by Labour, the Greens, NZ First, the Maori party and the Mana Movement. I hope the same promise can be obtained from all five parties before the next election.
"The minimum wage should be a living wage!
(See Government Press release Minimum wage to increase to $15.75 )
Statement by Joe Carolan, Socialist candidate for Mt Albert
"It looks like the National Government is planning to raise the minimum wage by 50c, from $15.25 to $15.75, this year" said Mt Albert by-election Socialist candidate Joe Carolan. "This would have been good 5 years ago, but the cost of rent, food, parking and transport is crucifying low paid workers I organise in Auckland right now."
"We beat back zero hours contracts last year. We want to make this Year the Year of the Roster, where we win workers fixed shifts. As well as pushing the minimum wage to a living wage of $20ph, its time we won back penal rates in New Zealand. We are one of the few countries in the OECD without a decent night or weekend rate.
"In the Mt Albert by-election, I'll also be campaigning to bring the nights and weekends back, arguing for a statutory time and a half rate for workers who work anti-social hours. $20ph minimum wage, and $30ph for night and weekend workers".
Joe Carolan is an organiser for low paid workers with Unite Union, and the local Socialist candidate for Mt Albert, standing to Put People Before Profits.