Unions launch late youth wage campaign
Unions have launched a campaign opposing a new youth pay rate below the adult minimum wage - just hours before the cut-off for submissions on the bill.
The Same Work Same Pay campaign was launched on the steps of Parliament at midday on Tuesday.
The campaign, backed by the Council of Trade Unions, is against a Government bill that sets a minimum wage of $10.80 an hour for 16 and 17-year-olds during the first six months of a new job.
The rate is 80 percent of the $13.50 adult minimum wage, and is aimed at getting more young people into work.
Same Work Same Pay spokesman James Sleep says paying people a lower minimum wage to do the same work as others is "fundamentally unfair".
"New Zealand has a minimum wage for a reason. All New Zealand workers should have the same minimum wage and be paid on the basis of the work they do and the skills they have."
He says introducing a "cut-price" minimum wage will not solve the problem of 85,000 young New Zealanders who are not in work, education or training.
"This policy may lead to some jobs being opened up for young people on youth rates, but this will be at the expense of other young and older workers who will be paid the adult minimum wage."
Mr Sleep says the Government should take an "investment approach" by creating job schemes, apprenticeships, increased support for youth employment and easier access to higher education.
The wage bill passed its first reading by 61 votes to 59 in October, with Labour, the Greens, NZ First, the Maori Party and Mana voting against it.
Public submissions on the bill close at 5pm on Tuesday, and Parliament's transport and industrial relations select committee will report back in February.