David Cunliffe showed that he wasn’t just pandering for votes in the leadership race by reaffirming and strengthening his commitment to work rights at the CTU conference yesterday. When David is PM the minimum wage will rise to $15 an hour, the public service will set an example by paying the living wage, and the Nats’ attacks on rights will be reversed – no more Fire at Will, no more youth rates.
Higher wages and more secure pay helps to fight poverty, lifts household savings, gives people dignity, increases demand in the economy creating jobs, and fuels improvements in productivity. If we want those things, we need higher wages to drive them. Undermining wages, which is National’s core agenda, undermines all those things in return for short-term gains for the rich.
Meanwhile, the middle-aged rich men of the Right can only whine that young people, women, and minorities don’t deserve decent pay. David Farrar sneers that young people starting in public service don’t deserve $18.40 an hour. Tau Henare spits on the Pasifika women who clean his toilets. John ‘corporate handout’ Key says that we can’t afford to pay people fairly. We’ve tried the neoliberal way for 25 years and its brought us only low wages, rising poverty, and a massive exodus to Australia.
Those losers’ day has passed. It’s time for a true red Labour that delivers a fair deal for working Kiwis, and David Cunliffe is offering it.