Minimum wage increase miserable

National’s decision to lift the minimum wage by just 25 cents an hour is a slap in the face for New Zealand’s poorest paid workers, says Darien Fenton, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Issues.

“Simon Bridges and John Key must be joking if they think an extra $10 a week is a fair pay rise for thousands of struggling workers and their families.  How would they like to try to live on $550 a week before tax?

“Four out of ten of the Kiwi children living in poverty and hardship come from working families.  An extra $10 a week – less tax – won’t be enough to make their lives any easier.

“Labour would lift the minimum wage to $15 an hour immediately.  That would put an extra $50 a week in the pockets of full-time minimum wage workers, and make a real difference to their lives.

“Labour is also championing a living wage, which has been calculated at $18.40 an hour.  The concept is proving successful in the UK, where businesses that sign-up to a living wage are being rewarded with increased productivity and a happier workforce.

“But National has shown no interest in lifting wages.  It has given up on closing the wage gap with Australia, and instead sees low wages as a competitive advantage.  It is abandoning thousands of families to a life of hardship.

“This Government has consistently failed the most vulnerable in our society.  National has sat back and watched as the gap between the rich and the rest gets wider and wider.  Today’s paltry boost to the minimum wage is yet another let down for struggling families,” says Darien Fenton.