A senior Maori unionist says the introduction of a lower wage for some young people will hit Maori hardest.
The Government is planning legislation that would allow employers to pay 80% of the minimum wage, or $10.80 an hour, to some teenage workers.
The starting-out wage is an extension of the existing new entrants' wage, which applies to 16- and 17- year-olds for three months.
The Minimum Wage (Starting-out Wage) Amendment Bill will include 16- and 17-year-olds in their first six months with a new employer, those aged 18 and 19 beginning work after more than six months on a benefit, and 16- to 19-year-olds in industry training courses.
Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says that will encourage employers to take on young people, but the Council of Trade Unions says there are not sufficient jobs available.
CTU vice-president Maori, Syd Keepa, says the unemployment rate is greater for Maori youth (rangatahi) than for any other group of young people, and the planned changes will not help.
Mr Keepa says what is needed is a greater emphasis on job creation and trades training.
He says companies may employ younger workers on lower wages, then dump them once they are old enough to earn more.