Minimum/Living wage outrage


A reader emails

Have just been reading the article on Stuff about Aroha Ireland. [ and the Herald, and TV3 – running leftie sob stories for Labour and the unions in unison as we see time and time again ]

It became fairly obvious reading the piece that it was politically slanted and large parts likely not true (‘fleeing’ the country, and $38 per hour to work in a warehouse?!) However this is not what annoyed me the most.

I started reading the comments and read several comments about a lack of jobs in NZ. Employment and the minimum wage has also been a feature of political debates recently and we’ve had a lot of poor me stories pimped out to us through the mainstream media. As a recent graduate, I thought I could maybe provide an alternative viewpoint.

Throughout uni, I worked several minimum-wage part time jobs in retail, nannying etc. At no point was it particularly difficult to get a job to cover my rent or expenses…there were lots of jobs around if you were happy to be flexible and work hard. I also had to accept that with my lack of experience I wasn’t worth much more than minimum wage. These jobs weren’t glamorous, nor were they particularly enjoyable at times. However, not only were these jobs essential to me paying my way through uni, but I also realised that these jobs would all provide me with some skill or experience to enhance my future career prospects.

I graduated from university in December last year. I chose the degree I did because I knew I would come out of it with clear job prospects, stable salary and ultimately, a good lifestyle. I was offered several jobs in NZ after graduation, and chose the one that is not necessarily the best-paid, but instead the one that offers the best experience and opportunities for career development to help me achieve my long term goals.

So when I hear people talking on social media or in the MSM that ‘NZ has no jobs’ or I get pretty angry. There are jobs out there. They may not be the highest paid or most glamorous jobs, but they are there.

What are these people doing to make themselves worthy of a job or higher pay? Why are minimum wage jobs beneath them? Why does such a large portion of the population have this belief that it is their god-given right to have an awesome, highly paid job without having to work their way up the career ladder? We can’t all start at the top. Some of these people who say there are no jobs need to lower their expectations slightly to get a foot in the door. Once that foot is in the door they can then work on up-skilling and working towards a better paid job.


Courtney obviously worked hard, didn’t expect handouts, and made sure she took advantage of entry level jobs at the start of her career path.  She never saw being in retail or baby sitting as the career she would retire on.

Entry level jobs are essential to an economy, and pricing them out of the reach of business is going to cause automation as well as a huge problem for young people getting onto a career ladder.

New Zealand’s minimum wage rates are already the 3rd highest in the world, with Australia being the world’s leader in paying its least productive the most.   Something they could afford when the mines were going gang busters.  But now they don’t have the income, Santa’s sack is empty.

We all started out flatting, sharing rides, taking a bus or using a cheap little motorbike to get around.  We helped on the farm, worked in retail or delivered papers.   We stayed at home and perphaps covered some of mum and dad’s expenses.

Nobody expected anyone to hit the job market earning enough to rent a home by ourselves, eat, operate a warranted, registered and insured modest vehicle, have Internet and a mobile phone, buy clothes, take care of medical expenses and go out for drinks every so often from day one.   But if you have a look at what constitutes “the living wage”, that’s exactly what they feel people should be paid for filling your plastic bag at the check-out counter.

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