(From One News TVNZ)
The adult minimum wage is going up to $14.25 – but a poll shows nearly half of Kiwis want it raised to $15.
The current rate of $13.75 an hour will be increased 50 cents from April 1, meaning a rise for around 100,000 New Zealanders who earn the minimum wage.
The training start out wage rate for young newcomers to the workforce also increases from $11 to $11.40 an hour.
The first ONE News Colmar Brunton poll this year asked New Zealanders whether they support increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Forty-six percent said “yes”, 23% supported more than $15 an hour and 16% support a rise of less than $15.
Prime Minister John Key argues increasing the minimum rate higher than $14.50 would mean job losses.
“The bottom line message is we’re trying to balance the capacity for businesses to pay a bit more and for people to earn enough to live,” Mr Key says.
Labour renews $15 promise
The Government’s increase puts it within striking distance of Labour’s $15 election promise.
“In our first hundred days we will lift it to $15 and we will move it again within our first year,” said Labour leader David Cunliffe.
Business leaders are comfortable with the minimum wage increase, which is above the rate of inflation.
Employers and Manufacturers Association CEO Kim Campbell says the increase is a lot less than “the silly numbers we’ve heard bandied about” for a living wage which would mean a $5-an-hour rise.
“It is coming in small increments, so industry will probably be able to cope with it,” he says.
But living wage campaigners, who argue for $18.80 an hour, disagree, Annie Newman of the campaign saying the increase is very disappointing.
She says the Government “should have taken a much bigger step than that” at a time when the economy is growing and we’re being told that workers are going to reap some of the benefits of this.
‘Certainly some relief’
ONE News political editor Corin Dann says the increase is certainly some relief for those on the lower income.
“As for timing, well it is election year,” Dann says, pointing out that this year’s annual increase is a little more than the rate of inflation.
“And remember the economy is doing well. So that does raise questions about whether they have raised it enough.”