- Jared Phillips
The Council of Trade Unions and various individual unions have put out statements regarding the April 1 2008 minimum wage rise to $12 and the abolition of youth rates for most young workers.
CTU secretary Carol Beaumont said:
Twelve dollars an hour is a commitment that this Labour-led government made with the Greens and New Zealand First, and it has now fully delivered on it. And with the abolition of youth rates from April 1 also, 16- and 17-year-olds will see their minimum wage rise from $9 to $12 after 200 hours or 3 months, whichever is sooner.
Unite union led the campaign for these changes. It was demanding $12 in 2005. This demand was also coupled with the sentiment ‘2008 is far too late’.
However, the recent increase to $12 is attributable to the large SupersizeMyPay campaign led by Unite, which picked up on wage discontent amongst low-paid workers and young workers.
The abolition of youth rates was even more clearly driven by Unite plus groups of young workers, adult workers, revolutionaries, leftists, and social democrats to the left of Labour. Unite hit the youth employers, Unite and students organised by radical youth hit the public, and then, with the NDU, Unite hit and manipulated the government. That is the history of the struggle against youth rates, which have yet to be finally eradicated.
This mass organising movement was the real force behind the most dramatic pack of successive minimum wage increases in decades. Unite is now successfully organising to get workers off minimum wage, and has just signed up more than 1000 new members in KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks stores.