Very conveniently, at 4pm on the eve of parliament re-convening, the government has tried to quietly announce that they will raise the minimum wage by 50 cents, in line with inflation. It’s not good enough, given that the current minimum wage is not a living wage. Our lowest paid citizens, already up to their gunwales with water, are being asked to keep themselves afloat a little longer. How can any worker be productive when they cannot even survive on their wage?
However, Labour’s response is even more deplorable. (Link coming.) It is only in opposition that they have finally seen the light and called for a proper living wage, which we told them was $15/hour a few years ago. They did not see fit to raise it properly in the good times, so they have no business giving National grief for failing to do it in difficult times.
I agree with Kiwiblog that you cannot legislate higher living standards and that you cannot rush out and impose a $30/hr minimum wage. Where I disagree is with his claim that we cannot move gradually, (but aggressively by our government’s standards), towards a living wage. Productivity is important. Deadly important. But it will never improve where workers are paid slave wages and are forced to work multiple jobs just to survive.
It’s high time we took ourselves seriously and stopped bemoaning our low-wage economy while doing little or nothing to change our lot. It is not chicken and egg. We have to lift wages and productivity, together. However, our first duty is to our own people and it starts with a living wage.
I’ve had my rant. Here is what Sue Bradford has said officially on behalf of the Greens. (I narrowly escaped with my treading water and sailing analogies)