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Teenage Workers To See Minimum Pay Cut As New Zealand Government Aims To Create Jobs
Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-10/09/c_131894625.htm
Source Date: Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Focus: ICT for MDGs
Country: New Zealand
Created: Oct 09, 2012

WELLINGTON, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government Tuesday announced it was cutting the minimum pay for teenage workers in a controversial bid to encourage youth employment.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said the new "starting-out wage, " to be introduced in April next year, would help provide young New Zealanders with more opportunities to get into the workforce.

Wilkinson said the starting-out wage was the latest in a series of steps to help get more New Zealanders into jobs in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis.

"The new starting-out wage will create demand for young people by giving employers a real incentive to take them on," Wilkinson said in a statement.

The government's plan would provide for eligible 16 to 19-year- olds to be paid 80 percent of the minimum wage.

"The new starting-out wage will help some of our youngest and most inexperienced workers get a much-needed foot in the door, in what is currently a tight labour market," she said.

Those eligible for the lower minimum wage included 16 and 17- year-olds in their first six months of work with a new employer; 18 and 19-year-olds entering the workforce after more than six months on welfare; and 16 to 19-year-old workers in industry training courses.

The starting-out wage would apply for up to six months after starting work with a new employer.

However, opposition politicians and unions said the starting out wage represented a continued erosion of labor rights under the center-right National Party-led coalition that came to power in 2008.

Leader of the main opposition Labour Party, David Shearer, said the plan would fuel the exodus of New Zealanders leaving for Australia in search of better pay and living standards.

"We need an economy that provides decent, secure jobs and good incomes and where young people have hope and opportunity not the low-wage vision promoted by National," Shearer said in a statement.

Co-leader of the opposition Green Party, Metiria Turei, said the plan was simply a mechanism to deliver cheaper labor to employers and was discriminatory.

"This policy is an incentive for bad employers to hire and fire young workers and is likely to see real wages for young workers drop significantly," Turei said in a statement.

The Council of Trade Unions argued there was no evidence to show that cutting minimum wages resulted in more jobs for young people.

"It will lead to poorer young people," James Sleep, convenor of Stand Up, the youth union movement, said in a statement.
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