Thursday, December 22, 2005

Minimum Wage

I've been antsy all week waiting for the Minimum Wage order to be released. Almost everyone I organise is close enough to the minimum wage for it to make a difference whether the increase is 50 cents or 75 cents.

The 75 cent increase is still only $10.25, which is completely inadequate. Labour did nothing about Youth Rates (which rather surprised me, if they were smart they'd take the wind out of Sue Bradford's sails by announcing an incredible gradual end to youth rates). 16 and 17 year olds will have a new minimum wage of $8.20 (so the gap between youth rates and adult rates has gone up from $1.90 to $2.05), and employers can still pay 15 year olds whatever they want.

Ruth Dyson was on the radio saying something about how $9.50 wasn't a lot of money so she was really pleased they could increase the minimum wage ($10.25 on the other hand is a living wage, so everyone can afford nutritious food in warm accomodation, and have plenty left over for leisure activities).

I'm with Susan Tuanui lightening strike is exactly the right response.

I do have one quibble - both with the headline for that article, and the Green's Press Release. They both describe a 75 cent increase to the minimum wage 'insulting'. I actually have a real problem with someone who earns a huge sum of money (in the case of the Green's press release) call a $30 a week pay increase insulting. I think it's important to acknowledge that $25 a week can make a real difference to someone's life. In fact I think it's by acknowledging how important those small increases are that we show how low the minimum wage is - for some people $25 a week could mean that someone can afford to buy fruit and vegetables, or just pay some more of their bills, because the current minimum wage is a poverty rate, and the new one will be as well.

I agree with every other point in both articles, but I just don't think insulting is a common reaction of someone whose pay rate is going from $9.50 to $10.25 (if it had come from someone who was on minimum wage then I'd have have no problem with it - and cheer the person who said it).

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