Tuesday, February 14, 2006

2 4 6 8 Youth Rates Discriminate

I went to a great anti-youth rates demonstration in Wellington today. Currently the minimum wage for over 18 year-olds is $9.50, while the minimum wage for 16-17 year olds is $7.60 (80% of the adult rate). Employers can pay under 16 year olds anything they like, so you get 15 year olds making pizza for just $6.00 an hour.

There were quite a few school kids there, and they were leading the chanting, which was fantastic.

The most important point is that Sue Bradford's bill doesn't go far enough. While it would end youth rates for 16 and 17 year olds, it would not offer any minimum wage protection for those under 16. This is a ridiculous situation - the most vulnerable are the ones with the least protection.

We heard that Labour was going to support the bill to the select committee. This will only make a difference a if everyone who cares about the issue sees it as an organising opportunity, and use the next few months to build a campaign. Labour aren't going to end youth rates to be nice, or because they like young people. They'll only do it if we give them no choice.

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