by Jennifer Josling, Socialist Aotearoa
Youth Rates are discrimination rates. At 16 you are free to leave high school, to work full time or to get into uni to study. At 16 Many youth need to work to survive. With the current proposition of youth wages of $8 to $10 for people ages 16 to 24, living in the current climate will be next to impossible.
The government say that this will bring more jobs for youth also lower the unemployment rates of youth. That they will have more opportunities. I see this going a few different ways.
Firstly, that youth get jobs but have to work many hours to survive, meaning whatever else they may need to do such as study becomes impaired, meaning that they miss out on other important life experiences and time with family and socialising..
Secondly, There will be no work for older people. A business will do what they want to maximise profits and if this means hiring low wage workers, then they will hire them over adult wage workers. Therefore, youth un empoyment might go down, but Adult unemployment will go up..
We can fight youth rates, we have done it before, we can do it again. Such as below in the Supersize My Pay and the $12 per hour Campaigns.
In 2006 I was involved in negotiations with restaurant brands tying to get better wages for the workers. Being a worker at starbucks I could influence negotiations from the inside, taking my workmates on strike etc. I closed my store down 3 times. One of the things we were fighting for was the end of youth rates. Youth rates didnt effect Starbucks workers, but it was a problem in KFC and Pizza hut.
Having taken my own store on strike several times I then organised KFC's in west Auckland to join the union and eventually took them out on strike. The most awesome one was the rolling strike at westgate shopping centre where there were all 3 brands. First I closed down KFC, we jumped into our cars, some marched, and we went down to Starbucks where we had a picket and took out some of their staff. Then onto Burger king where they also joined in, and then pizza hut. Although a number of them went back to work afterwards some stayed on to going to Burger king Lincoln rd (BK was in negotiations then too). We had many strikes and pickets in other parts of Auckland with memorable strikes such as KFC in Balmoral and the end youth rates/ supersize march up queen street, culminating in the big Pay out in meyers park.
Getting an agreement with Restaurant brands took a while, but in the end we won. They agreed that youth rates is discriminatory and that they would, over the next couple of years, bring all youth rates up to par with adult rates and raised some rates by 60%!!
All of this started a movement in which many sectors ended youth rates in their work places and eventually raised the minimum wage to $12 per hour for all work places. This is proof that together we can fight discrimination and win. And we can do It again and win.
Now for the "women should earn less because they bleed" thing.. well, we will see whats going to happen with this, and if anything becomes of it, we will fight this too. Whats next? Maoris should earn less because they are brown? Or People with mental illness should earn less? Or maybe women shouldnt vote...
What ever happens,,, The workers United, Will never be defeated!
Furter Reading- Beat the Brands, the story of NZ's Fastfood Rebellion