Between 1982 and the mid-1990s real wages fell in New Zealand some 25 percent and have never recovered.

Wages today remain a massive 25 percent below their 1982 peak - shortly before the Fourth Labour Government ushered in some 25 years of neoliberalism.

The argument from the 'free market' hacks was that if 'we' all tightened our belts and took only 'modest' wage increases then we would all benefit in the end - sometime over the horizon, in the 'medium term' to quote Roger Douglas.

However the official figures show that productivity increased by 80 percent between 1978 and 2008. So we produced more but got paid less for working harder.

I mention all this because Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson has been talking similar garbage to justify a derisory increase in the minimum wage from $12.50 to $12.75 an hour.

Wilkinson says in her snivelling press release: ''The Government is working hard to provide the right environment for economic growth and ensuring workers can maintain the buying power of their wages is part of that.'

Sound familiar?

Yes, New Zealand workers are expected to wear a next-to-nothing increase in the minimum wage in order to 'provide the right environment for economic growth'. This will presumably arrive in the 'medium term'.

We've been fed this tripe from both National and Labour Governments for the past quarter of a century. A QUARTER OF A CENTURY! Isn't it about time we said that we're not going to be fooled again?

And while the politicians and their lackeys are never short of dollar or two (a lot of it hiding in trusts) the joke is really on us because there is no pot of gold at the end of the neoliberal rainbow - just another politician calling for 'belt tightening' and 'wage restraint'.

This wage 'increase' - which works out to be approximately six dollars a week in the hand - does nothing to address the growing level of economic inequality and the growing levels of debt and poverty. Yet to add insult to injury , the New Zealand working class may well be hit with an increase in GST to fund tax cuts for business and the well-heeled.

It's no good Labour's Trevor Mallard saying that Labour will be campaigning to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour over two years.

This is little more than political grandstanding.

Mallard painting himself as a champion of the working class is just grotesque given the track record of Labour while it held the reins of power.

CTU president Helen Kelly says the increase is 'mean'. So what are you going to do about it, Ms Kelly?

Will the bureaucrats in Combined Trades Union show some political spine and mount an industrial campaign against the Government or will they do nothing - as usual?


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