Labour pushes $16 minimum wage


MIL OSI – Source: Unite Union –

Headline: Labour pushes $16 minimum wage

Labour leader David Cunliffe on Maritime Union protest

Reprinted From 3 News July 6, 2014

3 News has learned Labour is planning to lift the minimum wage from $14.25 to $16 an hour in its first year.

Unions have been lobbying Labour on the issue, but the pressure is still on; they want much more.

Labour leader David Cunliffe is comfortably nestled between Labour’s union affiliates.

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“Colleagues, comrades – we are part of a broad labour movement,” says Mr Cunliffe.

The unions are strong within that movement. They are pushing hard for a jump in the minimum wage.

Labour has already indicated two increases in its first year – one before Christmas from $14.25 to $15 an hour, and today came the details of the second.

“Even that’s starting to look a bit stingy, so we’re looking at a further increase within the first year,” says Labour’s labour spokesperson Andrew Little. “I expect it will be up around $16 an hour.”

So $16 an hour by April next year – for the unions leaning on Labour, it’s a pay-off, but just a start.

“It needs to be more, above $18, but it certainly would be a big boost,” says president of the Auckland Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) Jill Ovens.

“I think the second increase needs to be more than $16; it needs to start moving to two-thirds of the average wage over the term of the Government,” says CTU president Helen Kelly.

Two-thirds the average wage is $18.80. It’s also the ideal minimum for Labour’s man in charge of wages.

“It’s a good target to have, yes,” says Mr Little.

But it’s a high target, even more than Australia’s minimum wage of $18.10.

“I’m weary of drawing immediate comparisons between New Zealand and Australia – different economic situations,” says Australian Labour Party leader Bill Shorten.

Labour’s policy will be announced late this month.

Labour’s $15 minimum wage policy was old; it hadn’t changed for four years. Sixteen dollars will go some way to appeasing workers and unions.

But it has taken a long time to get here and already the pressure is on to go much higher.

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