Minimum wage rise hot topic
While the prospect of a minimum wage increase has caused twitchiness around the country, two Balclutha business people seem to be taking it in their stride.
New Zealand’s minimum wage is set to increase to $20 by 2021, under a new coalition deal.
The increase will occur in stages, starting in April 2018 when pay for workers on the lowest income will rise from $15.75 to $16.50 an hour.
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union executive director Jordan Williams has slammed the move, saying it was ‘‘economically barbaric’’ because it would price people out of jobs.
Not only that, it would kill jobs for those starting at the bottom of the ladder, wanting skills and experience, and who would benefit the most from work, he said.
However, Balclutha’s Heart and Soul Cafe owner Robyn Bell said she was unfazed by the proposed increase in four years’ time.
In business for about 14 years, she could clearly recall when the wage was $11 per hour (in 2008), and rising to the level expected by 2021 would come as no surprise.
‘‘I think it would have increased to $20 by that time anyway.’’
Alongside the wage increase, she would expect costs to rise accordingly.
Her cafe employs about eight workers.
Had the wage increase hit ‘‘straight away’’ it would definitely have hurt, but at least there were four years to get used to the idea and plan ahead, she said.
Balclutha Mitsubishi - BP 2Go owner Pat Wong also said a wage rise was inevitable.
The business employs about 20 people, with some casual, schoolaged workers.
However, as to how a wage rise would impact on staffing levels, it would be a case of ’’wait and see’’, she said.
‘‘It’s a matter of looking at how many staff you will need, and whether or not you can trim some edges.’’
Balclutha Ryder’s Stationery employee Vanessa Pow, 19, said many people at her age and stage would welcome the pay rise.
She knew from personal experience, having to travel from Balclutha to Dunedin to attend tertiary study for two years, that it was tough being on a minimum wage. A bit more in the pocket would help, she said. ‘‘It’s great for students struggling to make ends meet, and for people with young families.’’