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The Labour Party is calling on the new Minister of Labour to stand-up for low paid workers, and make lifting the minimum wage to $15 an hour his first priority.
“Simon Bridges’ predecessor as Minister, Kate Wilkinson, showed no understanding of the hardship of low income workers,” says Darien Fenton.
“Mr Bridges has the power to make a real difference to people’s lives if he chooses to act.
“Lifting the minimum wage to $15 an hour from 1 April this year would help address the issue of New Zealand’s low pay and widening inequality.
“The announcement of the annual review of the minimum wage rate is due shortly. It will be a real test of Mr Bridge's mettle, and his ability to influence his Cabinet colleagues.
“There are a raft of other issues the Minister will also have to get to grips with quickly, including the Government’s bill to cut the pay of young workers, changes to protections for our most vulnerable workers, major issues around health and safety and proposed claw-backs to collective bargaining rights.
“A good place for the Minister to start would be to meet with Parliament’s cleaners and catering staff, who are paid just above minimum wage.
“They will be able to tell Mr Bridges exactly what life is like for them on low pay, and what the removal of collective bargaining rights and vulnerable worker protections would mean for them.
“I’m hoping that the Minister will demonstrate a willingness to listen and take seriously the views of those most affected by the minimum wage and other changes to workplace laws his Government is planning,” says Darien Fenton.