Tomorrow's minimum wage rise is 'irresponsible' amid Covid-19, Simon Bridges says

Source: 1News

National is again calling for the Government to put off tomorrow's minimum wage rise, saying businesses were "are already facing huge financial struggles" due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

The Government needs to prioritise action against the "criminals, gangs and extremists", the Opposition Leader says.

The minimum wage is set to go up to $18.90 an hour on April 1. It is currently $17.70 an hour, which would mean an extra $48 a week for Kiwis working full-time. 

"Going ahead with the minimum wage increase during this crisis is irresponsible," National Party leader Simon Bridges said. 

"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."

National called for the delay earlier this month, at the time, the Prime Minister said they were not considering scrapping the minimum wage rise.

"What we need people to keep doing is continue to spend and consume," Jacinda Ardern previously said. "The adjustments to benefits, and what people are anticipating in their wages are all part of what will continue to keep the economy ticking over." 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said on March 10 many businesses had been "preparing for some time" for the rise. 

"It's important to us we continue to support people on low and middle incomes. The idea we would stop is that kind of broad brush approach that's not actually appropriate in the current situation we're in."

FIRST Union general secretary Dennis Maga also called delaying the rise "a terrible idea that punishes the worst off in society while exacerbating the problem it pretends to solve".

Since then, the country has been placed in lockdown, with much of the nation self-isolating. 

"It is counterproductive to try and stimulate the economy while the vast majority of businesses are closed and people are stuck in their homes," Mr Bridges said. 

"Many businesses are struggling to stay afloat and keep employing workers right now. Adding more costs is not the solution."

Yesterday, Jacinda Ardern said $3.7 billion had been paid out under the wage subsidy scheme to more than 580,000 workers.