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Bill to cut youth wages slammed by campaigners

Published: 11:44AM Tuesday February 26, 2013 Source: ONE News

Campaigners are slamming a wage report being discussed in Parliament today saying a proposal to cut youth rates will not help teenagers into the workplace.

The Minimum Wage (Starting-out Wage) Amendment Bill, which will get its second reading today, proposes to cut the pay rates for some 16-19 year olds to up to 80% of the minimum wage.

Same Work Same Pay spokesperson James Sleep said despite 98% of submissions opposing the bill, a discussion in Parliament today will recommend to bring youth rates down on May 1 this year.

"Submitters to the Select Committee were overwhelmingly against this draconian action but their submissions are set to be ignored.

"The Government is turning its back on young people who need a huge investment boost from the Government, not a cut to their income."

The proposed bill, announced in October last year, will affect three groups - 16 and 17 year olds in their first six months of work with a new employer, 18 and 19 year olds entering the workforce after more than six months on a benefit, and 16-19 year olds workers in a recognised industry training course involving at least 40 credits a year.

Minister of Labour Simon Bridges said a starting-out wage was important to give youth a foothold to enter the workforce.

"It will give employers a real incentive to take on our youngest and most inexperienced workers and provide them with the skills and work experience they need."

Sleep said $10.80 was not enough to live on.

"Thousands of young people affected by this draconian Bill will live away from home, paying the same living costs as most other New Zealanders."