The Government increases the minimum wage by a risible 50 cents an hour. Welcome to the misery economy.
Forget the spin about raising wage levels to those that can be found in Australia, the goal of those who rule us has always been to permanently lower working class living standards.
Kate Wilkinson's announcement that the minimum wage will rise by a paltry 50 cents an hour provides us with yet more evidence - as if we needed it - of the capitalist agenda. The 'wonderful' New Zealand that Labour leader David Shearer was waxing lyrical about on Waitangi Day is the same New Zealand where the living standards of all but a tiny few have been drastically reduced.
But, then, our parliamentary representatives aren't trying to survive on $13.50 an hour. They're not trying survive on a benefit.
This is the new normal, constructed by the neoliberal regimes of both Labour and National and aided and abetted by a fat and lazy trade union bureaucracy whose idea of 'militant' action is to stick a video on YouTube. Our enemies are not just to be found in Government - they can also be found among those who purport to 'represent' our interests. They preach the poison of compromise and concession, they pour scorn on the very idea of real political change.
Let's be clear.
There will be no return to 'the good times'.
What we have now isn't just the down cycle of an up-and-down economy that will eventually return to the "good old days." We are in a fundamentally different economic environment.
The program of the Government is to push down the wages of all workers, layoff workers in the public sector and make drastic cuts in spending on social programs. The social capital that has been stolen has been transferred to the wealthy.
Joe Carolan, Campaign for a Living Wage organiser, Unite Union has commented:
"Anger amongst the near half a million workers on less than $15ph in New Zealand will not be bought off with the 50 cent increase in the minimum wage today. Our workers in cinemas and fastfoods are voting to campaign for a living wage of $15ph this year. The government increase of 3.8% is a tacit admission that hundreds of thousands of workers in NZ just dont earn enough to live on adequately. Especially when workers in low paid jobs have no security of hours, and have their rosters changed from week to week. Casualisation and underemployment are the hidden scourges of the lowest paid workers in this society, and this problem will not be solved with half a dollar. "
The question to be demanded- again and again - of our union 'leaders' is when are they going to launch a campaign of militancy?
As Joe Carolan says:
'The real solution is for low paid workers to join the union and plan strike action, protests and stoppages in their workplaces. We don't need to wait for another year or election for Governments or politicians to throw us crumbs from the Master's table. Workers are the ones who create all of society's wealth- we can improve our lives if we organise and take action where we are strongest- time to bring the fights to the sites.'
Note: It was interesting to see that neither news shows on TVNZ or TV3 thought the minuscule rise in the minimum wage was important enough to warrant being a leading news story. Indeed, on TVNZ's 6pm news show its second item of the night was a story about Work and Income 'over-paying' benefits. So it looks like John Key can count on having TVNZ in his corner for the next three years.