by Metiria Turei
The Government has announced that the minimum wage will go up by 25c an hour, to $13 an hour, on 1 April.
This is not enough. A sole parent working 40 hours a week on $13 an hour will earn just $520 per week before tax – not much to pay rent, feed kids, and pay the power and phone bills with, let alone pay for school trips and warm clothes.
As many of our colleagues in the union movement have pointed out this afternoon, increasing the minimum wage by just 2 percent when inflation is running at 4 percent is actually a backwards step that will widen the growing chasm between the rich and the rest of us.
We have been a proud partner in Unite’s campaign for a $15 an hour minimum wage, and would legislate to introduce this immediately if we were in Government. In fact, we are probably nearly at the point when $15 an hour is no longer sufficient, thanks to inflation. We’d also ensure that there was a built-in mechanism to increase the minimum wage in line with inflation automatically.
Everyone deserves decent work, a living wage, and to be treated with respect. Today’s announcement is a step away from this goal, not towards it.