by Daphna Whitmore
The government has announced the minimum wage will rise by 50c an hour from April 2016. It will go up from $14.75 to $15.25 an hour, far short of the $19.80 called for by the living wage campaign.
For the over 100,000 people on the minimum wage the small increase will not lift them out of poverty. Not only is the pay inadequate, many low-waged workers do not have secure hours of work. They do not know from week to week how many hours of work they will have.
However, this year’s increase is above the rate of inflation and again shows up those on the left who have mistaken National for a hardline neoliberal party. The fact is National occupies a pragmatic centrist position on the capitalist spectrum, snugly alongside Labour.
Most of the left predicted when National was elected in 2008 that they would go for an all out attack on workers. They failed to see that National is dedicated to managing capitalism and had identified low productivity growth as a key concern, not holding down or abolishing the minimum wage.
Labour raised the minimum wage on average by 46 cents a year; similarly National has nudged it up by an average of 40 cents a year.
Under both governments workers’ conditions in real terms have declined.