Great, through concerted pressure the Left managed to force a 9-cent an hour real increase in the minimum wage from National/ACT.
A 9 cent an hour real increase is not much but it’s a hell of a lot better than freezing the minimum wage at $12 an hour and letting inflation eat it as National/ACT had planned. The decision for freezing at $12 was set to be approved by Cabinet last Monday but media attention drawn to the issue by the Left forced the Government to delay its decision for week while the Key-populist camp wrangled with the English-conservative bloc. Fear of a backlash prevailed in the end and National/ACT approved an increase, albeit the smallest in four years, to $12.50 an hour, just enough to cover the increased cost of living.
Because of that, the incomes of 120,000 workers and their families have been protected from the $20 a week cut they would have suffered had we let National/ACT slip through their no increase preference unchallenged.
Now, if we had a decent government we would be looking at at least the $13 an hour Phil Goff promised. Rather than a paltry $3.80 extra a week after inflation, full-time minimum wage workers would have another $23.80 a week or more to help support their families. But we don’t have a good government; we’ve got National/ACT. We have to make do with what we’ve got and try to force National/ACT into the best outcomes we can.
The experience of this mini-campaign shows that if the Left makes the effort, we can use Key’s populist instinct to good ends. When we work at it, we can hold the line and even win small victories.