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Wellington supports minimum wage hike – within reason

Mar 30th, 2013 | By | Category: Latest News, News

MOST people on the streets of Wellington think the minimum wage should be higher, but many have concerns about the impact on businesses.

Of 25 people spoken to by Newswire, 60% support raising it to between $18 and $19 an hour.

Liam Hoyle (18) gave a response typical of the living wage supporters.

“I reckon that would be great. I might be able to eat then,” he says.

The Council of Trade Unions is campaigning for a ‘Living Wage’, and has pulled together a wide range of support including the Labour Party, the Greens and the Anglican Church.

Ricardo Silvestre (45), a Newtown resident originally from Brazil, says New Zealand is a rich country and can afford to pay workers even higher than the CTU is calling for.

“I think that is not enough, $20 would be better,” he says.

He is seconded by Kelly Kingham (18), a Wellington Central art student.

“I’d love it,” she says.

“I’d work so much harder for that kind of money.

British tourist Kate Johnson says she has an outsider’s perspective.

“I think it’s a sensible idea. Everyone should be able to afford to live in the city,” she says.

The proposals were opposed by 28% of respondents, with 12% saying they are uncertain.

Auckland resident Noor Hadad (27) has concerns about where young workers will spend their money if given a pay rise.

“I don’t think $19 is reasonable,” she says.

“Inexperienced teenagers want to drink and take drugs, that’s what they’ll spend their money on.”

Steve Mitchell (39) of Te Aro raises similar concerns.

“It might disincentivize people to work hard and get into better jobs. At $13 an hour you want to move on.”

Prime Minister John Key says whether companies pay above the minimum wage is “a matter for them”.

The government recently raised the minimum wage by 25 cents to $13.75 an hour.

Despite a large majority in favour of further minimum wage hikes, over half the people spoken to have concerns about potential harmful consequences.

52% of those polled say a minimum wage rise could impact negatively on business, leading to higher prices and job losses.

The trade unions argue that similar policies have worked well in the United Kingdom, where they has won support on both the left and right of British politics, notably from Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson.

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