New Zealand Labour Party

Key's Levin claims are a lot of hot air

Levin hair salon owner Victoria Kaye-Simmons has cut through John Key’s claims that Labour’s plans to lift the minimum wage will hurt “the hairdressers in Levin or in Foxton”.

Team members at Victoria’s Shears Cutting Bar in The Mall, Levin, work on an earnings-sharing model which sees them paid an average of $21 per hour.

The approach has worked so well that four of her six-strong team have been with her for the 19 years she has owned the business, while the other two have both been there for six years.

Victoria said she does not believe Labour’s plans to raise the minimum wage to $16.25 per hour by 2015 would lead to job losses.

“If people were paid more they could afford to spend more, in businesses like mine and others in Levin,” said Victoria.

“When people are paid properly they feel valued, are happier in their work and stay in their jobs longer – which means consistency and better service. That’s good for customers and good for business.”

The Shears team are all senior stylists and keep 60 per cent of their earnings, with 40 per cent going to Victoria.

“I would make more if I paid people the minimum wage but I couldn’t morally do that,” said Victoria. “I was treated well by my employers in Levin when I started out in hairdressing and decided that if I ever owned my own salon, I was going to do the same.”

Victoria is also in her second term representing Levin Ward on Horowhenua District Council and says her fellow stylists’ support is invaluable in enabling her to serve the community and run the business.

“I wanted to do something for the community before I turned 40. I talked to the girls about it first and they all said “go for it”, she said.

“They run everything while I’m not there. I think if I was being paid $14.25 an hour, I’d be pretty cranky about being asked to do that.”