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Labour promises to lift minimum wage

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/06/2017
Labour leader Grant Robertson. © Getty Images Labour leader Grant Robertson.

Labour is promising to lift the minimum wage from its current $15.75 an hour to $16.50 and replace the 90-day trial period for new employees if it wins the election.

Party leader Andrew Little has just released Labour's employment relations policy, saying working people are not getting their fair share of economic growth.

"If working people's slice of the economy hadn't shrunk under National, pay packets would have been a total of $23 billion larger," he said.

Under Labour's policy, any future minimum wage increases would be based on "the real cost of living", and the aim would be to raise it over time to two-thirds of the average wage.

A Labour-led government would also ensure that all core public service workers were paid the Living Wage - calculated by campaigners to be $20.20 an hour.

The 90-day trial period - which Labour calls the fire-at-will law - would be replaced with trial periods that included protection against unfair dismissal and a fair and simple resolution process.

"Most employers use trial periods fairly but National's fire-at-will law has encouraged abuse by a small number of employers," Mr Little said.

"Labour will implement sensible changes to employment law to prevent the small number of bad employers undercutting good employers and driving a `race to the bottom' on wages and conditions."

The Council of Trade Unions and the Public Service Association praised the policy and said workers should celebrate it.

The business sector had an opposite reaction.

"Labour's policy includes national awards negotiated across industries by unions - an old-fashioned concept," said BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope.

"It misses opportunities for employers and employees to prosper together."

The Employers and Manufacturers Association said it had "deep concerns" with the policy, which "harks back to the old days".

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