8 Feb 2012

Labour says minimum wage rise falls short

6:51 pm on 8 February 2012

Labour Party leader David Shearer says the minimum wage increase offers only a bit of help for those on the lowest incomes.

The Government has announced the minimum wage will rise from $13 per hour to $13.50, an increase of 3.8%.

Those working full-time on the minimum wage will earn an extra $20 per week or more than $1000 per year.

Labour, the Green, Maori, Mana and New Zealand First parties all campaigned for raising the minimum wage to $15 or more an hour.

Labour's David Shearer says the 50 cent per hour increase will help a bit, but not enough, given that a quarter of the Salvation Army's clients are on the minimum wage.

But Prime Minister John Key, says it has to be remembered that many low-income families are also getting Working for Families support.

The Green Party says the increase in the minimum wage still leaves people on low wages in a terrible position.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says the increase strikes the right balance between protecting low paid workers and ensuring that jobs are not lost during tough economic times.

Ms Wilkinson says up to 6000 jobs would be lost if the minimum wage rose to $15 per hour or more.

But the Greens co-leader, Russel Norman, rejects this, saying there is no evidence that is true.

Dr Norman says the government is only interested in helping those at the top, and that the poor are not a priority.

The new rates come into effect on 1 April.