Government takes first step in cutting youth wages
The Council of Trade Union’s youth sector, Stand Up, says the Government’s youth rates Bill will not address high levels of youth unemployment in New Zealand and will put some young people into relative poverty. The Bill is having its first reading in Parliament today.
Spokesperson James Sleep says cutting the wages of young workers will not tackle youth unemployment, but will see other younger and older workers priced out of the job market.
“Youth rates are fundamentally unfair, but also flawed. They won’t bring down overall youth unemployment numbers, but switch some low paid, insecure jobs from one group of young workers earning the adult minimum wage, to the cheaper group of youth eligible to earn youth rates. At any one point there will be workers displaced, failing to address the bigger job shortage problem,” says Sleep.
“Take a 19 year old who has worked for a couple of years but for the last 6 months could not find a job. He or she could be paid at $10.80 an hour in a new job working alongside an 18 year old with no prior work experience but being paid $13.50 an hour, It doesn’t make sense”.
Sleep says youth rates will see a number of young people put into relative poverty.
“Youth rates will affect thousands of young people who don’t live at home supported by family. We’re talking about 18 and 19 year olds who are faced with the same living costs as everyone else. They won’t be getting a 20% discount on rent, food and utilities. With the current minimum wage being too low, $10.80 will be unliveable for many people.”
Sleep says the Government need to ramp up investment in job programmes like ‘Job Ops’, trade training and youth transitions.
“The Government needs to put serious investment into initiatives that work. Programmes like ‘Job Ops’ have had success and need greater support from Government. Cutting young people’s wages is a step in the wrong direction” concludes Sleep.