At the supermarket earlier this week I was browsing the aisles and noticed the price of cheese. It seems now that for a kilo of this yellow gold (hold on isn’t gold kinda yellow anyway?) you’ll be paying $16. Now that’s a lot of money for what is pretty much a Kiwi staple but it’s a particularly large amount of money if you’re one of the hundred thousand poor sods on minimum wage. In fact it’s going to take you two hours to earn enough in net wages to buy a block of cheese. Or to put it another way: 5% of your income. For cheese.
That’s why I was particularly angered to see this release on Friday from the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce telling us that:
‘Immigration rules need to be adjusted urgently to relieve the wage pressure, to allow increased migration to meet employer demand,’
That’s right, your desire to be able to afford cheese (and housing and clothes for the kids and…) is nothing other than “wage pressure” that needs to be relieved by allowing more (presumably non-cheese eating) folk into the country.
Let’s get this straight right now. These employers are saying wages need to come down. We’ve given them a tax cut. We’ve made it very easy for them to do business. Now they want us to be paid less too. You could cut a minimum-wage earner’s tax to Zero and it would still take them over an hour to earn enough for a block of cheese. The problem is wages.