Great start from new government for low paid workers
The planned increases to the Minimum Wage to $20 are a major step forward for workers, equality and the economy overall according to Unite Union, which represents thousands of low paid workers in food and hospitality workplaces.
As minimum adult wage moves towards the Living Wage then workers will simply be able to make ends meet after a weeks work, according to Unite National Secretary Gerard Hehir.
“It will make a huge difference to hundreds of thousands who most desperately need help. Over four years it is a 6.75% average increase per year. That is not excessive when we currently have full-time workers relying on welfare support, state subsidies and charity - and still struggling. Employers need to pay their workers enough to live - it really is that simple”
There are almost 700,000 workers earning less than the Living Wage (currently $20.20) - over a third of all employees (see the CTU's Shrinking portions to low and middle‐income earners: Inequality in Wages & Self‐Employment 1998‐2015).
"Winston Peter’s was spot on when he said many who felt capitalism was working against them were “not wrong”. The starkest measure is the Labour share of GDP in New Zealand which has fallen from nearly 59% in 1980 to only 50% in 2015 - 5% below the OECD average. Where has it gone? Corporate profits as a share of GDP have gone from 10% in 1980 to almost 25% in 2015. We shouldn’t be afraid of asking businesses to start reversing that trend - it is well overdue and only fair."
The scaremongering around loss of jobs is just that according to Unite: “When Unite successfully campaigned to abolish youth rates in 2008 there were dire predictions of mass youth joblessness. Youth employment actually increased in the years that followed. Recent research has consistently shown that hysterical claims of minimum wage increases causing rampant inflation and unemployment are simply wrong" (see Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment? by John Schmitt ).
"Everyone will benefit from the increases. Those wages will be overwhelmingly spent in local communities - benefitting local businesses. That will particularly help regional economies. Low paid workers won’t be jetting off overseas or importing expensive cars and luxury goods - they will be looking after their families, paying down debt and maybe even saving some money. The biggest barrier to getting into kiwisaver is actually not being able to afford the weekly contributions”.
"Employers who don’t think their workers are worth $20 an hour should look at their business model . New Zealand has a productivity problem. Rather than relying on low wages and low skills they should be looking to make their employees more productive. Investing in skills, training and new technology is the answer - not paying your workers the least the law allows you and complaining that it is too much."
"Taxpayers will be better off as well. The huge rental and income subsidies to low paid workers will actually reduce. This exposes who these government payments are really subsidising - low wage employers rather than their low paid employees. It is absurd that the loudest voices against minimum wage increases are also often the loudest in demanding tax cuts and complaining about government subsidies.”
“On behalf of our members, and all low paid workers in New Zealand, Unite congratulates the NZ First, Labour and the Greens for making a real difference. There is alot more to do - but it is a great start”.