Two wins for youth rate abolitionists

End Youth Rates NowFollowing last week’s protest march and gig in Central Auckland, youth rates abolition campaigners won two important victories this week.

First Parliament voted to progress Sue Bradford’s youth rates bill to a final reading, after an amendment was passed limiting the 16 and 17 year olds new entrant provision to 200 hours or 3 months, whichever is the lesser. While this is still not as good as Bradford’s initial bill, which would have removed youth rates for all 16 and 17 year olds, it is an improvement on the watered down and discriminatory version of the bill that emerged later from parliamentary select committee. This shows the impact that union member organised lobbying and campaigning can have on improving workers’ pay.

Speaking on Thursday CTU president, Ross Wilson, said:

“Last night’s youth rates vote is a huge step forward for thousands of young workers who when this change is implemented will receive a big increase in pay and a recognition that the work they are doing is being properly paid.”

Second, the National Distribution Union has negotiated with Progressive Enterprises, which runs Foodtown, Countdown and Woolworths supermarkets, to raise the base pay rates of its youth workers to the adult minimum wage after they have worked for three months or 200 hours. The deal pre-empts the minimum wage bill and will deliver significant pay increases to thousands of young workers.

TVNZ has video coverage of both these events:

“We work just as hard as the adults do, we should be paid equally as well,” says 15-year-old checkout operator Rohini Sudarsanan who will receive an extra $1.98 an hour – up from her present pay of $8.29.

(thanks to John from Auckland’s Burning for the photo. He also has coverage of the rally from last Saturday.)


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