Joe Hendren

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Make Poverty History in New Zealand

A nationwide campaign is underway to combat poverty here in Aotearoa, by increasing the wages of the lowest paid workers.

The objectives of the campaign are:
- Set the minimum wage at $12 per hour
A single wage earner working a 35 hour week should be able to bring in enough money to support a family
- Secure hours of work
These workers often face big fluctuations in hours from one week to the next so their income goes up and down like a yoyo too!
- Abolish Youth Rates
This is where young people under 18 are paid less than adults despite doing the same work - many employers exploit this law

A private members bill to abolish youth rates will be presented to parliament on the 15th of February by Green MP Sue Bradford.

A public rally will be held at the Auckland Town Hall at 2pm on Sunday the 12th of February, where fast food and other low paid workers will give first hand accounts of the effects of poverty-wages, age-based pay discrimination and insecure hours.

On Monday 13 February the Trade Union Centre in Christchurch will host a public meeting at 7.30pm in support of the SuperSizeMyPay campaign and Sue Bradford's Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination) Amendment Bill. Speakers include Sue Bradford, Lynda Boyd (Unite Union/NUPE) and Paul Watson of the National Distribution Union.

It ought to be pointed out that asking for a minimum wage of $12 an hour is actually a pretty moderate and reasonable demand. According to International Labour Organisation (ILO) guidelines the minimum wage levels of member countries should be set at two-thirds of the average wage. As the average wage in New Zealand is now around $21, this means the minimum wage should be set at $14 now, if we are to get anywhere near ILO standards.

Watching the extended version of McLibel documentary the other day I came across a very telling little tidbit.

In 1971 McDonald's founder Ray Kroc made a $250,000 donation to the controversial 1972 presidential campaign of Richard Nixon. It is likely this donation was investigated during the Watergate corruption scandal.
"Passages in the 'Behind The Arches' book (written with McDonald's backing and assistance) state that the donation came around the very time that McDonald's franchisees were lobbying to prevent an increase in the minimum wage, and to get legislation (dubbed 'The McDonald's Bill') passed to be able to pay a sub - minimum wage to some young workers."

While McDonalds in New Zealand do deserve some credit for being one of the few fast food employers not to pay youth rates, the wages they pay are still low and the job itself is by definition a 'McJob'.

The fact that Kroc gave cash to crooks to keep wages low speaks volumes about the anti-union, anti-worker culture of the fast food industry.

Update: Aparently McDonalds introduced youth rates for 16 and 17 year olds 2 years ago, and claimed they adopted youth rates because their competition used them. Scumbags! All this does is demonstrate the need for youth rates to be abolished.

Categories: Politics, New Zealand, Poverty, Corporates, Industrial

Labels: , , , ,


At 11:37 am, Blogger Uroskin said...

On the other side of the ledger, will an increase in the (minimum) wage packet also do away with the need for massive "family assistance" now offered to low (and not so low) wage earners who are lucky enough to have a family? Could even make room for tax cuts for all!


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