Roger Douglas youth rates bill an attack on workers

The Maritime Union of New Zealand has poured scorn on a bill introduced to Parliament by ACT MP Roger Douglas to reintroduce youth rates.

The Minimum Wage (Mitigation of Youth Unemployment) Amendment Bill was drawn from the Members’ bills ballot yesterday, and the Union is urging the Government to distance itself from it.

Maritime Union National President Phil Adams says the best thing to do would be for Roger Douglas to retire now before causing more harm.

“If he is so worried about younger workers, he could move aside and that would open up a job opportunity for a young worker with relevant ideas who is living in the real world.”

He says that Roger Douglas is pulling down an MPs salary, a parliamentary pension and national super, but he wants young people starting out in life to be trapped in low wages while accommodation, food and education costs skyrocketed.

Mr Adams says unemployment is a result of free market economic policies, and when New Zealand had a highly regulated economy and unionized workforce during the 1950s and 1960s it had high rates of economic growth and extremely low unemployment.

“Ever since we have gone down the Roger Douglas path, things have got worse for workers. Unemployment soared under his policies in the 1980s, it got worse when his ideas were carried on in the 1990s and now we have unemployment peaking again under the National Government once again.”

He says that training costs should be carried by employers, as they profited out of employing skilled workers so they should pay for their training.

Mr Adams says over the last generation, the share of income going to workers has decreased and the share of income going to owner’s profits has increased.

“The answer to boost employment and wages is simple. Lift the minimum wage, keep youth rates, get workers into unions, and make sure workers are getting their share of the wealth they produce.”

Youth rates were abolished in 2007.

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2 Responses

  1. Heidi says:

    This is utterly ridiculous, a cursory reading of economic history in New Zealand would disprove the argument in this press release.

    I note that you don’t refer to skyrocketing youth unemployment. How convenient.

    You have utter disrespect for a man who has earnt his place in society. The shame rests with you.

    • admin says:

      OK, Heidi:

      skyrocketing youth unemployment has skyrocketed in the last year. If you read newspapers, you will notice that due to the deregulated finance markets of capitalism, there was a major economic crash around the world. Like most other deregulated economies, New Zealand unemployment has indeed skyrocketed in this period under a National Government that has no interest in dealing with the problem. Youth unemployment has everything to do with this, and nothing to do with youth rates.

      As for the economic history, we’re talking about the economic history of New Zealand, I think you must be talking about the economic history of Mars.

      Under a regulated and protected economy, two sample periods 1964-1967 growth rates were 5.5% and in 1974 were 7.1%.

      In the immediate post-Douglas period (1989) we saw economic growth of -1.4% and in 1992 under Ruth Richardson it was -1.7%.

      Registered unemployed in 1960 was 600 or 0.07% of the labour force. Registered unemployment in 1974 was 700 or 0.06% of the labour force.

      Under Roger Douglas’s policies, by 1989 there were 153,561 unemployed, and under the continuation of ACT style policies by Ruth Richardson unemployment peaked at 235,000 in 1992.

      Roger Douglas has earned nothing. He’s certainly made the lives of a lot of working class people miserable, despite building his career from the Labour Party that (once) represented them. Now he’s having a last crack to see if he can push a few more into poverty.

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