Today, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson will be presenting a paper to her Cabinet colleagues regarding the minimum wage. The Department of Labour recommended a fifty cent an hour increase. Word is, Kate Wilkinson will be recommending no change. But John Key was forced to commit to unspecified increases on the campaign trail, so most expect some kind of token increase will be announced. What do you think it will be?
For context, here are some relevant numbers:
- $0 an hour, the minimum wage if National’s partner in government, ACT, has its way. Actually, there would be no minimum wage at all – ‘in ACT’s New Zealand employer gets paid by you!’
- $12 an hour, the current minimum wage (you would be surprised the people who think it’s much higher). Phil ‘my only interest is the workers’ O’Reilly, head of Business New Zealand, backs keeping the minimum wage at this level.
- $12.40 an hour, the increase needed just to restore the loss in purchasing power due to inflation over the past year (note, you look back at the inflation since the last increase, not forward to future inflation – it makes sense when you think about it)
- $12.50 an hour, the increase recommended by the Department of Labour. The DoL takes into account the increase in wages over the previous year, the increase in the cost of living over the previous year (inflation) in making its decision.
- $12.66 an hour, the minimum amount Labour would have increased the minimum wage to, fulfilling its campaign commitment to increase the minimum wage by at least the increase in the average wage or inflation, whichever is greater.
- $15 an hour, the minimum wage that the Greens and Progressives promised. The Maori Party promised that too, but now they’re in government with a party committed to abolishing the minimum wage, so I think we know how much a promise from them is worth.
- $17.88NZD an hour, $14.31 AUD an hour, the minimum wage in Australia. The Aussies put in a $0.57AUD an hour increase on October 1. Now, there’s a wage gap the Government could do something about closing.
Closest guess gets the most kudos.
[Update: Kevin Taylor has told media that consideration of the minimum wage was to be on Cabinet’s agenda today but has now been pushed back. When asked why, he said, “I’d rather not talk about cabinet business” and said the discussion would take place “soon”. So much for transparant government. Unite sees this as a bad sign. All I can say is it’s further evidence that incomes of workers aren’t a priority for this government. Too busy talking about crushing cars I guess.]