Yesterday Steve Pierson at The Standard posted on a rather disturbing comment by National Party MP John Hayes at an election meeting:
A member of the audience asked ‘John, can you please guarantee this audience that a National govt would continue to consistently raise the minimum wage – at least to cover inflation – which the Labour-led govt has done for the past 9 years, in order to support our lowest paid workers?’ According to the report, Hayes tried to avoid the question and waffled about MMP but the questioner insisted on yes/no direct answer. Hayes then snapped ‘No, we believe in tax cuts, not the minimum wage’.
Now that’s a pretty scary response for the thousands of workers who are on the minimum wage at the current princely sum of $12 an hour, and whose gain from National’s (and Labour’s) tax cuts will be minimal. So I went and checked the National Party’s employment relations policy, and there is nothing there at all about the minimum wage at all. So there is every prospect under a National-led government that there will be a repeat of the notorious nil increases in the minimum wage that saw the standard of living of low-income workers seriously eroded in the 1990s.
Even under Labour, unions have had to engage in an intensive lobbying exercise every year to get the meagre increases in the minimum wage that have occurred over the last 9 years. And Labour don’t seem to be proposing anything more than continuing modest increases in the minimum wage.
The Green Party, by contrast, would increase the minimum wage immediately to $15 an hour, and ensure wage security by legislating to ensure there are annual increases that do not permit it to fall below 66% of the average wage.
So for the thousands of New Zealanders on low wages, the answer seems obvious – Party Vote Green!