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Minimum Wage Decision Expected Tomorrow

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Jan 26 NZPA - A decision on the minimum wage is expected to be announced tomorrow by Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson, Prime Minister John Key said today.

Under the law it is the Minister of Labour's statutory responsibility to decide on the minimum wage review. "In making her decision the minister will be focused on maintaining the growing job numbers and providing economic opportunities," Mr Key said.

The minimum wage, received by about 100,000 workers, is reviewed every year by Cabinet.

Last week, the New Zealand Herald surveyed 2300 people on the issue, with the majority supporting an increase to $15 -- 3.5 percent of respondents said the minimum should be lower than the current $12.50 an hour, 30.5 percent thought it should remain unchanged, 61 percent thought it should go up and 5 percent did not have an opinion.

Following the survey, Mr Key ruled out an increase to $15.

In the midst of a recession last year businesses lobbied against an increase. Employers and Manufacturers' Association (Northern) chief executive Alasdair Thompson suggested to the Herald an increase of between 25c and 50c an hour.

Unite union is currently campaigning to get an immediate rise of the minimum wage to $15 with plans to collect over 300,000 signatures before May 7 on a referendum.

Campaign organiser Joe Carolan said last week if a fraction of the 61 percent of people who support the hike signed the petition, Unite was confident it would achieve its goal.

"Kiwi workers are struggling to make ends meet on less than $15 per hour, and the concept of a living wage for those who are working hard 40 hours a week is an idea whose time has come."

"But these people are on the bottom of the food chain and should be supported to get an increment."

The Maori, Green and Labour parties all support the $15 level.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard said last week a rise to $13.75 this year would pave the way for the $15 goal next year. He was concerned the Government may opt for a nil increase.

Mr Mallard said he was pleased to see public support for the increase to $15.

"It is heartening to see that most New Zealanders recognise the struggles faced by those on the minimum wage and support a better standard of living for them," he said in a statement.

"After all, it has been telling us for some time now that the recession is over, it wants to lift productivity and wants to close the wage gap with Australia.

"Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, either in one step if it is prepared to be bold, or over two years, would show it is serious about wanting to close the wage gap as well as sending a strong signal that it wants all New Zealanders, not just those at the top, to share in the fruits of the economic recovery."

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