Minimum wage rise good, but not good enough

A minimum wage rise to $15.25 an hour is better than no rise at all - but the Public Service Association says it falls far short of what New Zealand workers need for a decent life.

From 1 April the minimum wage will increase by 50 cents an hour, or $20 a week before tax.

But almost all of those gains will be eaten up by increases in the cost of living, with TradeMe suggesting the national median rental house has gone up $15 a week in the past year.

"The PSA welcomes the increase in the minimum wage, because any increase for our lowest-paid members is a good thing," National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

"But $15.25 an hour still leaves many New Zealand families struggling to cover even the most basic costs

"Many of our members, especially thousands of home support workers, say it’s tough to make ends meet - and this won’t do much to help."

By contrast, the New Zealand Family Centre Social Policy Unit has set this year’s Living Wage at $19.80 an hour - 30 per cent more than the new minimum wage.

"A Living Wage of $19.80 makes it clear how inadequate the minimum wage is for more than 150,000 New Zealand workers who depend on it," Mr Barclay says.

"Workplace Relations minister Michael Woodhouse says today’s announcement will put more money in the pockets of low-paid workers.

"But the PSA says that’s not enough.

"If National really wants to make a difference to low- and middle-income New Zealanders’ lives, they should drop the idea of tax cuts - and commit to the Living Wage."