Defend young workers, fight all anti-worker laws (article & main protest event details)

By The Spark editors

This weekend there will be demonstrations in a number of cities to oppose the re-introduction of youth rates and to oppose any extension to the new entrant rate provisions.

National has already attacked working people and unions by changing union access rights, introducing new conditions for access to sick leave, and introducing a probationary employment procedure which provides employers with the power to sack workers without reason in the first 90 days of employment.

John Key and National’s Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson have not ruled out a return to youth rates and are clearly putting youth rates back in the frame for discussion. Wilkinson, for instance, has cited high youth unemployment as a reason for the government to take a close look at policies that will give work experience to youth.*

The ability of employers to legally pay youth rates below the adult minimum wage for 16-18 year-olds was brought to an end in 2007. This victory was a result of a combined industrial campaign by Unite Union, street campaign by Unite Union and Radical Youth, and parliamentary campaign led by then Green MP Sue Bradford. This was one of the more significant offensive campaigns waged by the labour movement over the past decade. For a whole generation of younger workers it was certainly the most significant.

We will fight any attempts by the bosses and government to roll back wages and conditions of workers of any age group.

We encourage everybody who can make it to attend one of these demonstrations on Saturday June 25:
Auckland: Assemble at Holy Trinity Cathedral, 446 Parnell Road, Parnell, 11:30am
Hamilton: Assemble at National MP David Bennett’s office, 510 Grey Street, Hamilton East at 12pm.
Wellington: Assemble at the bucket fountain, Cuba Mall, at 12pm.
Christchurch: Assemble at National MP Kate Wilkinson’s office 130A Percival Street, Rangiora at 12. Car pool from Christchurch meeting at Riccarton Ave side of Hagley park (opposite Hospital near Parkside bus exchange) at 11.15am – look for the Unite flag.
Dunedin: Assemble at the Octagon at 12pm, followed by a march to National MP’s office.

*http://www.unite.org.nz/youthrates_unemployment (this article written by Mike Treen in 2010 dispels the myth that lowering wages serves to lower unemployment).

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