The EMA will oppose youth rates. Yeah right!

I’m a proud unionist, so today I joined a protest my union (Unite) helped organise against the Government’s proposal to reintroduce youth rates for the minimum wage.

We had originally planned to direct the protest at John Key, but given his absence overseas and Alasdair Thompson’s brain-fart about women’s supposed lower productivity due to their menstrual cycle earlier this week, decided to take it to the National Party policy unit  Employers and Manufacturers Association office.

It was a fun time – a hundred or so tampons (none of them used – we are heath and safety conscious) were thrown at the EMA office, or inserted through a convenient gap in their locked sliding glass door.

  • [Note to self: take a camera next time – it would have made a great pic.] 
  • [Note to EMA: Not a good look re health and safety – if tampons can get in through the gap in your front door, so can small incendiary devices or biological pathogens.]

TVNZ ran a small item on the protest.  They spelled Unite organiser Joe Carolan’s name wrong, but more significantly, they quoted Alasdair Thompson:

Thompson said he has always supported equal pay for equal work.

Guess that means Thompson and the EMA will be opposing the reintroduction of youth rates. Yeah, right!

National, ACT barking on youth rates

I’m almost lost for words – this is so unbelievably stupid.  National and ACT want to reintroduce a discriminatory lower minimum wage rate for young people.  And they are not just talking about people under 18 who were subject to youth rates before a Green Party bill abolished them in 2008.  They are talking about extending them to people aged up to 24.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says:

If you’ve got somebody who is 16 who is wanting a job and someone who is 30 at the same price, then who is the employer going to employ?

Fail, on all accounts.  Wilkinson seems to think employers create jobs because they have some spare money floating around.  They don’t.  They create jobs because they expect doing so will expand their business and/or improve its profitability.  Thanks to the Government’s failure to respond to the recession with policies that encourage employers to create jobs, there are simply not enough jobs to go around at the moment.

But Wilkinson would rather see the 30 year old, often with a mortgage and a dependent partner and children, out of work rather than the 16 year old who has the lifestyle flexibility to choose to further train or study to improve his or her chances in the labour market. Unbelievably stupid!

There is absolutely no evidence of a causal relationship between the minimum wage for young people and youth employment rates.  In  fact, a study undertaken by Treasury and the Department of Labour back in 2004 showed that when the youth rate was substantially increased (and in the case of 18 and 19 year old workers set at the adult rate) youth employment rates actually increased.

This isn’t about getting young people into work at all.  It is about an evidence-averse Government prepared to suck up to employer lobbyists’ demands for lower wages.

If there is an up-side to the Government’s barking mad discriminatory policy, I suppose it will encourage more young people to vote, and young people’s votes tend to favour the Greens.

Update: According to Danyl at the Dim Post, Kate Wilkinson’s office has denied that consideration is being given to setting the age for youth rates at 24.

Stealing Green achievements

Now this really pisses me off! I’ve just noticed Labour stating this on its election site as one of its achievements:

And more than that, we abolished youth rates. After 3 months or 200 hours work 16 and 17-year olds now have the same minimum wage entitlements as anyone else.

The Bill that did this was introduced by Green MP Sue Bradford. And the Green Party had to enlist strong lobbying support from the union movement to get Labour to support it. And when they finally did agree to support the Bill, they did so only on the condition that it was watered down to provide that “new entrants” to the workforce could be paid less than the adult minimum wage until they had worked 200 hours or 3 months.

And now Labour, having had to be dragged screaming and kicking by the union movement to support Sue Bradford’s Bill at all, have the temerity to claim the achievement as theirs!