Money in low-wage workers’ pockets vital to fight recession - RePress

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Tuesday, February 3

Money in low-wage workers’ pockets vital to fight recession

Lifting the minimum wage will help New Zealand ride out the recession and the National-led Government must realise that and act quickly, says the Green Party.

"We hope that next Monday’s Cabinet meeting will make a positive decision on this issue, which affects hundreds of thousands of low wage workers and their families," Green Party Employment Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"It is also critical that any rise be more than the 50 cents an hour recommended by the Department of Labour, as that will only bring workers’ real incomes back to where they were a year ago.

"John Key – who supports a minimum wage and has hinted at a ‘modest increase’ – should understand that keeping money in workers’ pockets is vital, not just for their personal survival, but also for helping to keep other Kiwi businesses and jobs afloat.

"Any move to freeze the minimum wage as some employers’ groups are advocating will only hasten and accentuate the recessionary spiral.

"Fears a wage rise will harm the job market have no basis in reality as we have seen from the abolition of youth rates. While some employers claimed ending youth rates would damage business, cinemas now employ more young people than they did before."

"The Green Party also notes Labour’s call for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

"While we welcome Labour’s support for a higher minimum wage, I wonder why they weren’t supporting unions and parties like ours who were making the same call during the recent election campaign," Ms Bradford says.

"Over the coming week I hope that workers around the country will let their local National MPs know why it is so important that the minimum wage be lifted as soon as possible by telling their stories about the reality of their lives.

"MPs are often very distanced from what life is like for people struggling for survival.

"The fate of the minimum wage makes the difference between desperation and survival for many families, not just for those right on $12 an hour, but also those who earn in the $12 to $15 per hour range, whose base rates are often affected by the minimum set.

"The Greens call on Mr Key and his Cabinet to make a decision next week based on principles of economic commonsense and a commitment to the welfare of the hundreds of thousands of affected workers, and their children."

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