The Government must defer the minimum wage increase set to come in to force tomorrow, Opposition Leader Simon Bridges says.
“With the entire country under lockdown, businesses up and down the country are already facing huge financial struggles.
“Going ahead with the minimum wage increase during this crisis is irresponsible.
“Increasing the minimum wage will add substantial costs at a time where almost every industry in New Zealand is feeling the pain of the coronavirus outbreak and this additional cost will hit them hard.
“We are urging the Government to defer the increase for six months while we reassess its affordability during this unprecedented economic situation.
“The Government’s argument that increasing the minimum wage will stimulate the economy is flawed. It is counterproductive to try and stimulate the economy while the vast majority of businesses are closed and people are stuck in their homes.
“The absolute focus right now should be to keep businesses in business and New Zealanders in jobs. Increasing the minimum wage makes both of these priorities more difficult.
“It would make more sense to defer the increase and reassess it in six months’ time.
“The minimum wage has increased 12 per cent since 2017, and the 1 April 2020 increase would take it to a 20 per cent increase in three years.
“Everyone wants to see higher incomes, but governments need to be responsive to the realities on the ground. Many businesses are struggling to stay afloat and keep employing workers right now. Adding more costs is not the solution.”