New Zealand’s major employer representative, Business NZ, considered a “social partner” by the Government, is pushing for the minimum wage to drop to $7, or 25 per cent of the national average wage, Labour’s associate spokesperson on Labour Issues Darien Fenton says.
“Business NZ’s submission to the annual Minimum Wage Review show they advocated for the minimum wage to be frozen over several years until it dropped to the 25 per cent level.
“In 2012, the government abandoned the long standing approach of asking a number of employers, workers and community organisations to submit on the minimum wage and pared back consultation to the ‘social partners’, Business New Zealand and the NZ Council of Trade Unions.
“Other long standing principles around reviewing the minimum wage were also ditched, including fairness, protection, income distribution gap and work incentives, with the only considerations to be unemployment and inflation.
“Labour warned at the time that other important voices most affected by the minimum wage would be excluded, including women’s, Māori, Youth and Pasifika organisations, as well as other businesses.
“While there will always be differences between employers and workers’ representatives about the level at which the minimum wage should be set, it is unfathomable that Business NZ considers $7 an hour is in any way a fair rate.
“Business New Zealand is supposed to be the most representative organisation of employers in New Zealand. However Labour believes the majority of employers would not support a minimum wage at such a meagre level.
“Thankfully, the Government did not accept the advice of Business New Zealand this time round, but there is no guarantee the same will happen next time.
“National needs to assure New Zealand workers that such extremism as demonstrated by Business New Zealand is not acceptable and get back to a more comprehensive consultation process around minimum wage setting.”