, the Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, made the announcement yesterday that the minimum wage for adults would change from $14.25 to $14.75 an hour.
The hourly minimum wage for workers who are starting-out or training will also see an increase, rising by 40 cents per hour to $11.80.
According to Woodhouse, the government took care when setting the rates to ensure that they protected the lowest paid workers in New Zealand while ensuring that no jobs were lost.
“$14.75 per hour is an appropriate increase given current economic and labour market conditions,” he said. “It balances the needs of both businesses and workers whilst having minimal impact on the wider labour market.”
He added that increasing the minimum wage further would be dangerous.
“An increase of the minimum wage to $14.75 ensures there is no restraint on jobs while still increasing the incomes of the lowest paid,” Woodhouse said. “A higher increase to even $15.50 would constrain employment growth by up to 5000 jobs per year.”
However, the announcement has already been met with backlash from unions.
“Yesterday new figures were released for a living wage, with the rate identified at $19.25,” said New Zealand Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly. “The mean-spirited increase announced today means thousands of hard working families facing another year of struggling to make ends meet.”
“Over 300,000 workers are now on or near the minimum wage as collective bargaining rights have been decimated, insecure work arrangements have become widespread and unfettered migration has been allowed to flood low paid, low skill work areas,” she added. “What Government is clearly saying today is – expect more of this.”
The government has announced that from April 1, the adult minimum wage will increase by 50 cents per hour.