13 Mar 2014

Business NZ rubbished over wage idea

2:17 pm on 13 March 2014

Major employer representative Business New Zealand wants the minimum wage reduced to 25 percent of the national average wage, the Labour Party says.

Labour's associate spokesperson on labour issues, Darien Fenton, says a document presented to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment quotes Business New Zealand as saying the current minimum wage should be frozen until it reaches 25 percent.

Based on current levels, that would be $7 an hour.

"I think it's ridiculous," Ms Fenton says, "and I don't believe most businesses would accept that - it's certainly not my soundings among business organisations."

But Business New Zealand says it's wrong to say it wants a minimum wage of $7 an hour, and says it has never called for the minimum wage to be reduced.

It does say, however, that New Zealand's minimum wage as a percentage of the average wage is the highest in the world and, given the need for a stronger economy, the minimum wage should be set at 25 percent of what it calls a much higher average wage rate over time.

The Government recently announced a rise in the minimum wage to make it 50 percent of the national average wage.