Promise of minimum wage hike "a start" - Labour

By Talisa Kupenga

The Labour Party promises a boost to the minimum wage as part of its Workplace Relations Package announced today. It says the working class is missing out on economic prosperity, but will $30 extra a week make a real difference?

Labour promises and extra 75-cents an hour, in its first 100 days if elected.

Party leader Andrew Little says, "It’s a start. We've still got a heap of work to do in getting people onto the living wage, we've got a heap of work to do to get our employment framework in place with the fair pay agreements and every other device we can use."

Cleaner Malia Uaisele says "at the moment $15.75 is not enough to pay the bills."

The package would;

  • Replace National's 'fire at will' law with fair trial periods.
  • Introduce Fair Pay Agreements to set basic employment conditions across industries.
  • Pay core public sector workers the Living Wage, at a cost of $15-million, which would extend to contractors over time. 
  • Double the number of Labour inspectors to 110 at a cost of $9-million.

Little says in addition to this Labour would increase the minimum wage year-on-year like it had done while in government.

“Starting with the immediate increase to $16.50 an hour in our first one hundred days [we would then] work towards a long term goal of two-thirds of the average wage."

Yesterday One Pacific co-leader Dr Joe Williams told Te Kāea that feedback from Pacific communities was that Labour had done nothing for them. Little disagrees. 

"When we were in government we did amazing things for that community and we lifted the minimum wage on a regular and meaningful basis and we put in place an employment law framework that gave them more protections. It's the present government in the past nine years that's stripped it all out."

First in line will be ministries and departments like DoC, but security workers or cleaners like Malia won't see movement for improvement until near the end of Labour's first term.