Workers worse off under National

Workers’ pay packets continue to go backwards in real terms under National’s ‘rock star’ economy, the Green Party said today.

Statistics New Zealand today released the September quarter Labour Cost Index (LCI) which showed ordinary time wages and salaries have risen 10.5 percent since the September 2008 quarter, below inflation of 11.1 percent over the same period. Statistics New Zealand says the LCI is the best measure of earnings.

“It shows, despite the Christchurch rebuild and historically high commodity prices that have fuelled the economy, workers’ real wages have gone backwards under this Government,” Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman said.

“At the same time power bills and the cost of housing have far outpaced inflation.

“While there has been a welcome drop in the unemployment rate from the last quarter, it is still well above where it was when National became the Government.”

Statistics New Zealand said today that the unemployment rate in the September quarter was 5.4 percent down from 5.6 percent in the June quarter. In the December 2008 quarter it was 4.6 percent.

“John Key says getting people into work rather than lifting wages of those on the bottom rungs is the best way to reduce poverty, so why after six years in power is the unemployment rate at 5.4 percent compared with 4.6 percent when they took office?’’ Dr Norman said.

“No question that having a job that pays a living wage is the best way out of poverty, but National is failing to provide that opportunity for a lot of New Zealanders.

“The economy is now turning down according to economists, so this looks like it is as good as it gets and it’s not good enough for those out of jobs and in poverty.

“Sadly we are likely to hear more bad news such as today’s announcement from Vodafone that it will cut between 200 and 250 staff by March as well as significantly reducing the number of contractors.

“John Key and Bill English like to paint themselves as good economic managers, but after six years it is time for them to stop blaming the Global Financial Crisis or the former Labour Government,” Dr Norman said.