Minimum wage hike stirs up cost of a coffee
Will we see a rise in prices as a result of workers being paid more? Julie Iles reports.
THE first round of minimum wage increases is poised to hit some consumers where it hurts – their coffee cups.
Signs on the counters of major coffee chain Mojo warn customers the cost of its coffee and food has gone up in the wake of a 75 cents increase to the minimum wage on April 1 to $16.50.
The gradual rise will eventually take the minimum hourly wage to $20 by April 2021 and training wages to $13.20 an hour.
Mojo has 31 outlets, and its marketing manager TayLann Mark said that the public had had a ‘‘mixed’’ reaction to the price hike, which will lift the price of a small flat white from $4.50 to $5.25.
‘‘When we found out about [the minimum wage increase] we had a meeting with all of our managers and it was a celebrated thing. Some of our customers have posted on social media that this is a great thing, and then some not so.’’
Other coffee makers say the wage increase wouldn’t affect their prices.
Peoples Coffee marketing manager Jesse Finn said the hike would not increase the price of a coffee there.
‘‘For us, we want that point between what the minimum wage is and what our starting wage is to be a decent amount, so we’re definitely looking at it but we don’t have any sort of firm plans to sit down and see what that means.’’
Infometrics chief forecaster Gareth Kiernan said the minimum wage increase was not raising wages as quickly as the Labour Government did between 2004 and 2008.
‘‘I don’t recall a lot of businesses complaining about the wage back then because the labour market was extremely tight, that to attract new staff they were having to pay significantly more anyway.’’
He said the labour market now was not as tight but it was expected to become tighter in the next couple of years.
Kiernan said it was fair for more skilled employees to also want a wage rise.
‘‘If you’ve come in at minimum wage and earned an increase over the past six months and you’ve got a bit more skills, then I think it’s fair to want to be paid a bit above the minimum wage to reflect that.
‘‘It’s important to preserve that relativity.’’
Kiernan said the policy could have a bigger impact on manufacturing than hospitality firms.
‘‘It could accelerate the move away from labour towards automation and capital.’’
Modelling from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) found the wage hike could lead to the loss of 3000 jobs.
Manufacturer’s Association spokesman Dieter Lund said most of the association’s members had few if any minimum wage jobs.
‘‘Most of the low-value jobs in the sector have already moved overseas.’’
But Lund said businesses were ‘‘seriously concerned’’ about the ‘‘upward pressure’’ of the wage hike.
Despite this, research done by CTU has found the flow on from past minimum wage increases has not been all that notable.
Those in the wage bracket above minimum wage saw the lowest growth in wages over a 20-year period, while growth in the lowest waged bracket matched the highest.
Retail NZ spokesman Greg Harford said smaller businesses would be the most affected by the new policy.
‘‘Over time, especially smaller businesses will look at their costs ... this could mean cutting jobs or cutting hours. But anecdotally, I understand retail workers’ wages tend to float slightly above minimum wage.’’
Smaller businesses will look at their costs ... this could mean cutting jobs or cutting hours.’ GREG HARFORD
Mojo blamed the rise of the price of a cuppa on the minimum wage increase.