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February 27, 2006 | by  | in News |
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Boost to Minimum Wage Campaign

A bill to increase the minimum wage for 16 and 17 year olds got past its first hurdle in Parliament last week and is now one step closer to becoming law.

The Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination) Amendment Bill was sent to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee for review by a majority of seventy one to fifty.

The bill aims to give sixteen and seventeen year old workers the same minimum wage as workers eighteen and over. Currently the minimum workers below eighteen can be paid is eighty percent of the adult minimum wage, or $7.60 an hour.

The bill’s sponsor, Green MP Sue Bradford, says she was “thrilled” at the result, which was “wonderful” given the makeup of the current Parliament.

Only National and ACT voted against sending the bill to select committee and Labour has not committed to supporting the bill beyond the select committee stage. Bradford says Labour’s reaction to the bill has been “mixed” and she gets the feeling that some members of the Labour caucus are “worried about alienating business”.

Co-President of the National Student’s Association (NZUSA) Conor Roberts says it is a “positive move” for students. Many high school students were already forced to save for university because of high fees and being paid an “artificially low wage” did not help.

Grace Millar of the Unite union, which has many youth members, was pleased with the result. “We can win this” she says, but added that young people had to be mobilised. The previous week had seen around one hundred young people and their supporters march on Parliament to show their support for the bill. One young woman spoke of being paid less than workers she was supervising, simply because they were a year or two older.

Bradford called on students, who generally have recent experience about “how crook [the system] is”, to make submissions to the select committee. Roberts says NZUSA will probably be making a submission.

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About the Author ()

Nicola Kean: feature writer, philanthropist, womanly woman. Nicola is the smallest member of the Salient team, but eats really large pieces of lasagne. Favourites include 80s music, the scent of fresh pine needles and long walks on the beach.

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