Greens plan to boost minimum wage

The Green Party wants a minimum wage of $18 an hour by 2017, a minimum redundancy package of four weeks' pay, and measures to shrink the gap between a company's highest and lowest paid.

It also plans to abolish youth wages, 90-day trial periods for new workers, and the employment law changes made for The Hobbit that makes screen workers contractors by default.

Party co-leader Metiria Turei announced the workers policy in Wellington this morning.

"Half of all kids below the poverty line have parents in work and nearly 40 percent have parents who are in full time work," Mrs Turei said.

Higher wages would make work a more effective pathway out of poverty, she said.

The Greens want to bump the minimum wage to $15 an hour in December, and then by $1 an hour each year to $18 an hour by 2017.

"Our minimum wage policy will raise pay packets for half a million New Zealanders in our first term. A single person on the minimum wage will have $125 a week or $6400 a year more in the pocket under the Green Party policy," Mrs Turei said

The policy also features a Living Wage of $18.80 an hour for core Government sector workers, a statutory minimum redundancy package of four weeks' pay, and requiring large companies to disclose the pay gap between male and female workers, and the gap between top and bottom salaries.

The party also wants to tweak Working for Families abatement rates so families can keep more of their own salaries when their pay goes up.

The extra tax revenue from increasing the minimum wage would be almost $2 billion over four years.

This would more than pay for the $1.1 billion cost over four years for increasing the wages for Government workers, as well as a $10 million social enterprise fund for increasing cooperation and democracy in workplaces.

"Our policy will benefit the hundreds of thousands of New Zealand workers who simply don't earn enough to cover their basic costs," Mrs Turei said.

"Our workers plan will restore the Kiwi dream that is built on the idea that if you work hard, and do your fair share, your income will rise consistently and workers will have what they need for a good life."

- By Derek Cheng of the New Zealand Herald 

'Job loss' convenient fallacy

The notion that an increase in the minimum wage will cause loss of jobs is a convenient scare tactic to keep the lowest-paid and their supporters in their place.  But did you ever hear of a weirder basis to a theory?  It is based on the idea that employers hire people they don't really need, because they're so cheap.  Look around a few workplaces.  Watch the news to see where cutbacks occur when times are hard.  The lowest paid are the most closely examined to see if a few dollars can be saved on their wages, while middle management carries on muddle-managing and it takes an rare emergency situation to see positions truly lost (I mean without an equivalent position with a different title being added) or hours cut.  The work conditions of the lowest paid are already so bad they can't get much worse without losing all pretence of maintaining cleaning standards, feeding, cleaning and dressing dependent elderly and disabled people.  And so on.  The shopkeeper could close the shop while he has lunch, goes to the loo or the bank - but that would cost him in other ways.  The lowest paid, with their irregular hours, split shifts, on-call "jobs" that  stop them even committing to volunteer activities, will gain more than anyone can threaten them with job loss.  Some of them would be no worse off on the benefit anyway, it's only pride and the desire for independence that keeps them slogging away in the workforce.


Job loss fallacy

Most credible studies that have been done (including Treasury's) have found job losses resulting from raising the minimum wage (in modest increases) are zero to neglible and some even show it may create jobs through extra consumer spending. Any losses found are usually outweighed by other factors like more spending power, smaller government benefit expenditure, increased tax takes etc. All it takes is a quick look through the scholastic published studies that are available on the net to see the overwhelming belief that minimum wage increases does not equal job loss. Opposing views are usually, funnily enough, from business-sponsered think tanks.

Work scheme?

And all the people that lose their jobs can build the mono... Sorry! Light rail while on the unemployment benefit to keep the cost to tax payers down since most tax payers won't get to use the rail they pay for. 

I reference the authority on such projects for this inspiration, The Simpsons:

Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine, bona fide
Electrified, six-car monorail
What'd I say?

What's it called?
That's right! Monorail


I hear those things are awfully loud
It glides as softly as a cloud
Is there a chance the track could bend?
Not on your life, my Hindu friend

What about us brain-dead slobs?
You'll be given cushy jobs
Were you sent here by the Devil?
No, good sir, I'm on the level.