Since the government announced this year’s rise in the minimum wage, a few weeks ago, an idea has been brewing. This morning (1 April 2017) I put pen to paper, well fingers to keyboard, and sent this as a letter to the editor’s column in Christchurch’s newspaper…
The Power-house Economy (that previous Prime Minister John Key kept congratulating himself on) has certainly benefited property price speculators, but with oh so many in society missing out. I was hoping that under Bill English, New Zealand’s hardest workers, crushed at the bottom of the pile, might finally get a fair go. Alas it seems not.
The minimum wage has just been increased from $15.25 an hour, to $15.75. Totalling $20 a week gross, that’s just $13.22 a week nett after tax and student loan repayments are deducted.
A commonly held misconception among the well paid, is that only school leavers, the lazy and stupid, are paid at the legal minimum. In actuality, a substantial swathe of hard working Kiwis are kept in servitude at, or just a few cents above, the minimum wage. This includes educated and highly skilled workers in the electronics and manufacturing industries here in Christchurch NZ. Earning export dollars in hard currency, we are the people actually earning the overseas funds so essential for NZ’s development.
Employers may grant wage rises even less than annually, and said rises are often so small as to be equalled or overtaken, by the measly 50 cents an hour rises that the government has granted every year, for the last umpteen years.
Workers on the bottom of the pile need meaningful and worthwhile wage rises. Since 1991 when the government (virtually) castrated the trade unions, and dealt almost all the cards into the hands of the employers, the poorest workers are utterly dependent on the government to legislate the basic level of remuneration and conditions.
It’s great to have ‘aspirational targets’, like the independently assessed “minimum living wage” (was $19.80 per hour, going up this year to $20.20), but unless it, or something close, is actually getting paid to workers, it’s just more airy-fairy pie-in-the-sky bull-dust.
…and don’t even get me started on the recent hijacking of the term “affordable housing” to mean “affordable by doctors and lawyers, and those with an 80% deposit/equity”. At this year’s new wage rate of $15.75/hr, (and using the accepted formula of sensible mortgage financing being 3.5 times annual gross of $32,760), even if a worker saved the $11,500 being the 10% deposit required under “Welcome” home loan, good luck on finding that house-and-land package, even in Christchurch’s cheapest suburbs, for $115,000 ! (You would need double that, and then some, as the cheapest places to be found, anywhere in the greater Christchurch metro area, would be in the suburb “Aranui”, where prices for the cheapest place start at about $260,000).
I, assert to being the author of the above article, written for consideration of inclusion in “The Christchurch Press”. It has not been submitted elsewhere.
…After I emailed it to The Press on Saturday April 1st, I watched and waited. NOW I am publishing it on my Blog Friday April 7. It has not that I have seen, been published in the newspaper upto today (I mostly get to see the newspaper Mondays to Fridays only).
…”We can talk about this ’till next Sunday, or we can just go do it, real quick !”
The Walking Dead, ep 2:02 @21 mins