$20 an hour now! Make the minimum wage a living wage!

By   /   January 24, 2017  /   5 Comments

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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.

 

While Unite Union welcomes any increase in the average wage it must be pointed out that a

50 cents an hour increase to $15.75 from April 1, 2017, 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 an hour or two-thirds of the average wage. (NB: The average wage will reach at least $30 by the end of the first quarter this year when the new minimum wage takes effect.)

The current consumer price index is almost meaningless when it comes 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.

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.

This government has increased the minimum wage each year. However, the 1990-1999 National government 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.

An increase in the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage 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!

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About the author

Mike Treen

National Director of Unite Union

5 Comments

  1. WILD KATIPO says:

    Absolutely !

    Full support – there should be no free lunches in subsidizing unscrupulous employers by enabling them to get away with paying such appallingly low wages – either that or this govt should cease forthwith with any claim of an economy ‘ doing well’- let alone that Key obscenity we once heard about a ‘ Rock star economy ‘- when wages are so pathetically low.

    You do not measure a country’s prosperity by measuring how well the wealthy are doing – as you would not compare 19th century economics with slave labour and the wealth accrued by capitalists then and dare to suggest an economy and a country’s population are ‘ well off ‘…

    Someone somewhere is making colossal wealth on the backs of NZ workers who have tenuous jobs that are low paid , – and this govt is endorsing that process of legalized theft through the deliberate introduction and maintenance of legislation that creates this sort of wage environment discrepancy.

    A certain NZ company that is involved in the fishing and food industry comes to mind and how they treat their workers – with the same sort of bald faced open contempt for trade unions.

    100% support , Mr Treen.

  2. Jack Ramaka says:

    With mass immigration especially foreign students there is a willing labour force willing to work for minimum wages.

  3. Robert Atack says:

    I just received a quot/estimate from a Sharon Burnet of Gibson Sheat, who have been appointed executors of my uncle’s will.
    The thieving bastards are charging between $265.00 and $390.00 + GST per hour.
    If any group of people ‘deserve’ the shitstorm on our horizon it surely are people like this. They are parasitic rapists.
    Bring it on. http://www.22After.com

  4. andrew says:

    Since National came into power the hourly minimum wage has risen from $12.00 to $15.75 – a 31.3% increase.

    • Mark Priestley says:

      Under the previous Labour government the minimum wage increased from $7.00 to $12.00 – a 71.4% increase. Sorry, what point were you trying to make?



Authorised by Martyn Bradbury, The Editor, TheDailyBlog, 5 Victoria St East/Queen St, CBD, Auckland, New Zealand.