TEU president Lesley Francey says the small increase in the minimum wage signalled by the Minister for Labour this week shows the need for employers to move ahead of the government and commit to a living wage instead of a minimum wage.
“Two adults working full time on the new minimum wage of $13.75 will earn just over $800 after tax. Take away an average rent for a family house, especially in a big city, healthy food, electricity, phone and other basic necessities and there is little if any breathing room for families who face any out of the ordinary costs. For a single income family it is nigh on impossible,” said Lesley Francey.
“For the most part tertiary education employers have been quiet on the living wage campaign. We would like to see them commit publicly to being living wage employers and ensure that their contractors are the same. Employers, especially big public sector employers who are in the business of giving people better employment opportunities, need to move beyond seeing the minimum wage as a baseline and focus instead on what their employees actually need in order to care for their families.”
Simon Bridges, the Minister for Labour, announced a 25 cent increase to the minimum wage earlier this week saying the increase represented “a careful balance between protecting low paid workers and ensuring jobs are not lost as the economic recovery gains pace.”
Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway called the increase in the minimum wage inadequate to keep low income families out of poverty.
“A significant rise is overdue. It would help reverse rising income inequalities as well as help those on or near the minimum wage. The evidence from New Zealand and internationally is that it would not increase unemployment,” he said.
The new minimum wage rates will come into effect on 1 April.