31 Mar 2020

Businesses want minimum wage increase postponed

2:17 pm on 31 March 2020

Businesses are asking the government to defer the minimum wage rise - scheduled to go up tomorrow - but workers do not agree.

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Photo: 123RF

The minimum wage is due to rise to $18.90 from $17.70 per hour.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association said the timing was inappropriate.

"In the middle of what's going on, the timing's just awful. We do know and accept that it's a key policy plan for the government but businesses at the moment are struggling to keep the doors open and keep their staff employed," head of Advocacy and Strategy Alan McDonald said.

He said the EMA wanted the raise postponed.

"It's difficult to get a handle on how long and how deep this particular crisis will go on but we think six months as a minimum, maybe nine… it could be a year."

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However, the E Tu union said the raise impacted many essential workers - such as cleaners and security staff - who were doing it tough.

Assistant national secretary Annie Newman said the raise needed to go ahead.

"Far too often, the poorest and most vulnerable in our society bear the brunt of economic downturns."

"We know that low wage workers spend the largest chunk of their wages in the local economy. Keeping money in the pockets of our lowest paid will be vital for stimulating the economy as we go forward."

"A minimum wage increase tomorrow means it will be easier for these workers to keep food on the table and keep the heaters on through the pandemic. Surely there's not much more important than protecting our frontline workers."

She dismissed the claims the raise should be postponed.

"These are the same groups that argue against minimum wage increase in any weather. Their fears are always unfounded - their predicted economic outcomes never come to pass."

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