You try living on youth rates or the minimum wage

The uprising amongst New Zealand youth against low pay and insecure jobs is being backed by the Maritime Union.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says all workers should support young people who are taking part in campaign activities, including industrial action at fast food outlets and the recent street rallies and concerts.

“What we are seeing is the inevitable reaction from working class young people who have become a low-wage generation.”

He says youth rates need to be abolished, and there also needed to be ongoing increases in the minimum wage.

Youth rates are the youth minimum wage paid to young people who are 16 and 17. Currently the youth minimum wage is $7.60 per hour, and will go up on 27 March 2006 to $8.20 per hour.

The adult minimum wage (which is for people aged over 18), is $9.50 per hour, going up to $10.25 on 27 March 2006.

Mr Hanson says young people are being advised to go into debt for tertiary education, pay for housing and accommodation costs that are going through the roof, save for their retirement, and are constantly pressured by advertising to buy consumer goods.

“Try doing that on the minimum wage, let alone youth rates.”

Mr Hanson says the recent resistance in France to attacks on low-paid young workers was an indication that this was an international issue.

“We are witnessing the long overdue political and social awakening of a new generation.”

He says the attacks on vulnerable workers will continue, with the recent introduction to Parliament of a bill for “trial employment periods” in New Zealand.

“The fact is that any law like this would be used by some employers to hold the whip hand over their employees, especially those who are young, vulnerable and unsure of their rights.”

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