Youth wages prove controversial
Tue, 09 Oct 2012 11:23a.m.
By 3 News online staff and Tova O’Brien
The Government has re-introduced youth wages, meaning companies can legally pay young workers 20 percent less than adult counterparts.
The new ‘start-out wage’ applies to 16 and 17-year-olds in their first six months of work with a new employer and 18 and 19-year-olds entering the workforce after more than six months on a benefit.
It also applies to students between the ages of 16 and 19 who are enrolled in an industry training course.
The policy will see those in these groups paid $10.80 an hour – only 80 percent of the adult minimum wage of $13.50.
Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says re-introducing youth wages – abolished in 2008 by Helen Clark’s Labour Government – will stimulate employment.
“The new starting-out wage will help some of our youngest and most inexperienced workers get a much-needed foot in the door, in what is currently a tight labour market,” she says.
Figures released by the Government this morning show the number of unemployment beneficiaries increased 0.2 percent last month to a total of 50,390.
The idea of re-introducing youth pay rates was raised by the ACT Party before last year’s election.
Ms Wilkinson says the policy does not apply to people training or supervising other staff.
‘Young people want this’ – Govt
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the Government has been talking to young people who say they want the policy to go ahead.
“They're just saying give us a shot, and employers are saying you don't have the experience, you don't have the qualifications you're just too risky,” says Ms Bennett.
And Kim Campbell, CEO of the Employers and Manufacturers Association, argues that young people have less to pay for.
“Remember these people are not raising a family or running a household on this money –nobody expects them to – but it does give them some money to get started on.”
Minimum wage ‘already too low’ – union
But the move has been quickly condemned by one union, who said age shouldn't matter when it comes to work.
“The minimum wage is already too low for anyone to live on, and forcing our young people onto even lower rates will condemn them to poverty,” says Service and Food Workers Union secretary John Ryall.
“There is no evidence that reducing the pay rates for some workers to do the same job creates jobs or gives young workers skills.
“This is simply about providing cheap labour in a country where wages are already too low and low-paid workers of all ages are struggling to survive.”
Youth wages ‘discriminatory, disgraceful’ – Greens
The Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says National’s youth wage plan is “discriminatory” and is aimed at providing cheaper labour to employers.
“Rather than offering young people a bright future, through skills and training, youth rates are about undercutting all workers’ wages by ripping off young workers,” she says.
Ms Turei argues the new policy is worse than the previous youth rates system.
“The most disgraceful part of National’s attack on young workers is that they are effectively increasing the age limit for what constitutes a ‘youth’,” she says.
“The previous discriminatory policy of youth rates at least stopped at 18.”
Council of Trade Unions youth spokesman James Sleep says cutting the wage potential of young people will not help them get jobs.
“This is going to nothing to get them into work, this is going to send a message that they're worth less than older people.”
Key didn’t think it likely
For a while Prime Minister John Key seemed to agree a youth wage wasn't the answer. In June last year he said the prospect was unlikely.
“I don't think there's a high probability,” he said. “Whether we'd actually bother embarking on that it's far too early to say.”
But in just ten months the Government's gone from probably not bothering, to full steam ahead
The youth wage takes effect in April next year. The Government's business friends like it, and most of the people least likely to support it aren't old enough to vote.
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15/10/2012 11:34:22 a.m.
New Zealand is the last country in the world where i would have expected the government to openly wage class warfare. It is truly heartbreaking.
12/10/2012 7:15:22 p.m.
How will those young adults make ends meet if they are renting and living on their own, how will they pay for the basic essentials.Once again KEY will drive even more youth over to Aussie.
11/10/2012 8:40:24 p.m.
This is Key' keeping his frienship with the business industries owners by lowing the wages..
Young people should be at $14 per hour and the over age at $17 per hour minimum wage, the people must fight to live..
Young earners and expenses receiving $10 per hour at 40 hr per week after tax, they pay for bus fare, lunch, clothing, accomadation, Doctors and dentist fees, how the hell can you save for an emergency when aries on that $10 per hour rate, no plublic servant deserve that lower rate, its a bloody joke and a disgrace..
We should meet up with the Australian rate of pay is what you called civilized living in civilization and not bloody slavery living in slums, 'what a ripped off merchandize..
The bloodly Government does'nt careless for our youngsters and our older people but paying themselves up to $700,000 per year on salary per person, what a joke, so common kiwis demand your rights worth of your time and effords..
10/10/2012 5:14:50 p.m.
OMG, what a joke the government is, just reinforces, my families decision, on why we moved to Australia, it took a lot of pushing, but congratulations John Key and the National Party, you succeeded in making us, and 100s of other families from NZ move over here, and I love my country, but we can't afford to live on the wages in NZ, my husband and I work in a motel and cabin park, I am the cook in the little lunch bar Cafe, and he supervises, 4 cleaning ladies for the motel, theres only 15 staff here, from Mon to Friday, he gets $22 an hour, Saturday, $26 an hour Sunday $30 an hour, I am on $25 an hour for all my hours, I couldn't believe it when I got the job, and found out the pay rates, the man that owns the place, has now given my 30 year old son a job too, he loves our work ethic, and has told us not to leave for at least 5 years, we haven't been here that long, but have decided it would be hard to leave anyway, my Country is turning to custard, my 27 year old daughter is working pick packing like NZs equivelant of your biggest supermarket chain, she is on $28 an hour for afternoon shift, $23.50 for day shift, my husband and I are in our 50s, so we want to put away as much money, while we can, so we can come back home one day, its funny you know, the Aussies reckon NZ will be a retirement village for Australia, or maybe thats Mr Key and his national party bigger picture, scary but it seems to be happening!!! Thanks again Mr Key for sending us to greener pastures
10/10/2012 4:13:44 p.m.
This is f-n unbelievable everything is increasing in costs and were getting LESS, LESS to start with. I mean I never thought id see the day where id struggle even more than i am now. too much grief for soooo little. good thing ive got a ticket to oz, be wise and do the same!
10/10/2012 12:37:04 p.m.
I dont this is fair for the young people either they need a incentive to work,not cheap labour,they young and fresh and deserve a chance to have ago at the workforce.
10/10/2012 12:15:59 p.m.
Tin man wrote:
And this new 6 month job contract thing. Is that like the 90 contracts where you can give low subsidised wages then sack them and in with the next bobby calf??
10/10/2012 12:02:11 p.m.
kohine rata wrote:
Another kick in the guts for youth workers. By the time tax, travel, to work is taken out there is pittance left. Vote them out come election year start now to gain support to get rid of them. There is no future also employers rarely employ unskilled people. Key an his cronies should take a pay cut see how they like it. YEAH RITE.
10/10/2012 10:13:32 a.m.
For christs sake people, the "start-out wage" is only for the first 6 months!!
Why carry on like it's the end of the world. Employers will not be willing to pay teenagers $13.50 when they are unskilled and inexperienced over someone in their 20's who is more mature.
When I was a teenager I got excited at the prospect of getting my first job and McDonald's even though it was on minimum wage of $9.50 because I knew I got the job and as I got experienced I could earn more.
10/10/2012 7:14:32 a.m.
Jim Seaview wrote:
QUOTE: "The new ‘start-out wage’ applies to 16 and 17-year-olds in their first six months of work with a new employer and 18 and 19-year-olds entering the workforce after more than six months on a benefit."
IN A VERY TIGHT JOB MARKET this new policy has targeted the two groups of unskilled people identified that require some assistance to get their foot in the door to prove to an employer that they are worth hiring and will be an asset after 6 months.
For a person who is only 18 or 19 years old with no job AND has been collecting the Unemployment Benefit - paid for by the hard working, overtaxed, overRated, diligent, struggling taxpayer - again you should make use of this new policy because as the job market decreases - your chances of getting a foot in the door in front of someone else is also decreasing. On another matter - National promised to bridge the gap between NZ and Ozzie and I cannot see how this policy (with a different aim) is going to achieve closing that gap when you consider that in Perth WA - McDonald's Burger chain were advertising for staff in August 2012 starting at A$19-60 per hour.
This proves that Labour is just another commodity whose TRUE market value is affected by supply and demand.
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