The Alliance Party says the National Government’s 25 cents per hour rise in the minimum wage does nothing to help low income New Zealanders who are living in a state of financial crisis.
Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says the Alliance has argued for many years that a substantial rise in the minimum wage would have positive economic and social outcomes.
“Wage increases stimulate the economy and create new jobs.”
“A higher minimum wage would mean more income for the Government through an increased tax take and it would mean less money spent on subsidies for low income earners such as the working for families package and rent subsidies.”
She says the Government is currently making up the difference between what minimum wage workers get paid and the amount workers need to live on.
Ms Murray says the minimum wage must realistically reflect the cost of living in New Zealand and should pay for the basics, which it does not do today.
Many larger employers making substantial profits are doing so by underpaying their often young and vulnerable workers who have little bargaining power, she says.
The share of wealth going to workers has decreased for many years, and low income workers are the most disadvantaged of all, battling with rising food, accommodation and transport costs.
The Alliance supports the Unite Union campaign for a minimum wage of $15 an hour and for annual increases until the minimum wage is brought up to 66% of the average total hourly earnings.
The Alliance Party policy is for a $17 per hour minimum wage.