Press Release – Unite Union
Low paid workers are set to protest tomorrow in Auckland’s Queen street against a “April Fool’s Joke” 25 cents increase on the minimum wage. Low paid workers to protest tomorrow against a “April Fool’s Joke” 25 cents increase on the minimum wage
Low paid workers are set to protest tomorrow in Auckland’s Queen street against a “April Fool’s Joke” 25 cents increase on the minimum wage.
The 25 cent an hour increase in the minimum wage from April 1 has been called an April Fool’s joke on low paid New Zealanders by the Unite Union campaigns coordinator Joe Carolan.
Unite Union, organises thousands of NZ’s lowest paid workers in fastfoods, cinemas, hotels and other industries. They are the sponsors of the Campaign for a Living Wage, which has gathered over 150,000 signatures to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
“This April 1st, we’re asking- Who’s Fooling Who? 25 cents won’t pay the rent, and it won’t make a dent on rising costs and inflation for 100,000 of the lowest paid workers. 9 cents of it will already be eaten up by additional tax and increased ACC levies, which means their net pay is 5 cents an hour less than it should be.”
The 25 cents was supposed to compensate for inflation since the last rise a year ago, but at 2% (http://www.tradingeconomics.com/Economics/Inflation-CPI.aspx?symbol=NZD) inflation has reduced their net purchasing power by 21 cents per hour. Combined with the 9 cent levy and tax increase minimum wage workers will actually be just over 5 cents an hour worse off (-$2.11 a
week) than they were a year ago.
Campaigners will wheel New Zealand’s largest 25 cent coin down the street, stopping at low pay stores, getting low paid workers to sign the quarter with a message for John Key, before it is delivered to his mansion in Parnell. The Campaign is also launching a “Download this Government” drive to spread its living wage petition virally on the internet, as it seeks to gather thousands more names for its petition on the web. Supporters are being asked to download and print one page of the petition and collect 10 names during April. The campaign already has the largest membership for a campaigning group in NZ on Facebook, with more than 3,000 members.
“If John Key thinks we’re fools this April 1st- he might be in for a rude surprise. 150,000 registered voters have signed our petition to raise the min wage to $15ph, and many of these wrote to us saying how shocked they were at the Prime Minister’s admission to us that he couldn’t personally survive on minimum wage at the Big Gay Out. If it isn’t good enough for him, why is it good enough for the poorest workers?”
“There are also 350,000 workers on less than $15ph in New Zealand. Many of these rely on the minimum wage increase to bump up their own rates, in the absence of a fighting union like ours. Most of these people will get nothing, because of the miniscule size of the raise. It should come as no surprise that workers are now taking matters into their own hands – if the government won’t legislate for living wages, there will be action, including strikes, in the stores and on the sites. Certain multinationals that have offered our workers 0% will be first in the firing line, as anger spills out.”
The Living Wage Campaign will gather outside JB Hi Fi’s flagship store tomorrow Thursday 1st at 4pm in Queen St. JB Hi Fi is one of the companies currently offering their Unite members a zero percent pay rise.