Labour’s two levels of minimum wage

BusinessNZ is not impressed by Labour’s intention to create two levels of minimum wage if it implemented its immigration policy:

The policy released on the weekend says low-paid migrants push wages down for New Zealanders, and a Labour government would make it compulsory for businesses to pay migrant workers at least the living wage, after accommodation deductions.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says having a minimum wage for New Zealanders and a higher minimum wage for migrant workers makes no sense.

“Whether it is called a living wage or any other name, it would basically be a higher minimum wage for migrant workers.

“The policy appears to be based on advice from a Lower Hutt church agency that promotes an arbitrary wage level without bearing accountability for that advice.

“This is hardly the way to make public policy.

“New Zealand’s skills shortage is a complex problem. It requires the education system to be delivering more needed skilled people. It requires students to be making more realistic study and career choices. In the absence of these, many employers are forced to seek migrant workers.

“Labour’s policy proposal to require higher rates of pay for migrant workers than New Zealand workers does not address our skills shortage problem and would create problems of its own.

The idea would create problems for workers and employers.

Local workers on one wage would rightly feel hard done by doing exactly the same work as immigrants but knowing they were paid less.

Problems employers already have getting enough staff willing and able to work would be exacerbated if immigrants were priced out of the market.

BusinessNZ sees other problems with Labour’s policy:

Labour’s new immigration policy would mean Immigration New Zealand would be given the power to make employers train New Zealanders before getting the nod to employ workers from overseas.

BusinessNZ says the policy released by Labour this weekend appears to convey employers are to blame for skills shortages in New Zealand.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says Labour’s policy is “wrongheaded.”

“What Labour’s doing is a bit worrisome because what they’re saying is they are going to be much tougher on employers.

“They’re saying you’ve got to skill up your workforce before you come knocking on the immigration door.”

He says the government needs to work with businesses to help solve the skill shortage.

“You can’t just train them all up in a week. Sometimes, no matter how much good work government does with employers and the likes in terms of training for some of those skills, they go overseas too.

“This is always going to be an issue, with the gap between the skills a business needs at any given time and what the skills system in New Zealand can deliver them.” . . .

Sometimes businesses can afford to take on someone and train them, sometimes they need someone already skilled.

Locals are usually the preferred option as it is because there’s usually extra administration involved in hiring immigrants.

But sometimes an immigrant will be more suited to the job than a local and employers don’t need more hurdles to jump before they can fill a vacancy.

New Zealand needs productive businesses to contribute to economic growth.

Their ability to do that will be compromised by Labour’s policy which is a thinly disguised attempt to limit immigration and looks like its been written by unions.

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