Page 1665 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 May 2013
association’s “100% pay at 18+” campaign, which seeks to end the practice of paying young workers at a percentage of the minimum wage until they reach the age of 21. I would like to note my colleague Mrs Jones’s former employment as an organiser and national office staffer for the shop distributors association. I am sure she will be as excited as I am to see this important issue receiving national attention.
I personally have been passionate about ending aged-based discrimination since I began my working life as a school leaver in the hospitality sector. The hospitality industry and retail sector employ a high proportion of Australia’s young workers earning minimum wages. In these industries, an 18 year old, across a range of awards, can be entitled to up to 30 per cent less in their pay cheque than their 21-year-old counterparts. As a hospitality worker, I saw 18 year olds being paid less than the older staff they were training. This situation creates a disincentive for young people to pursue what I know can be very rewarding careers in these industries.
It was when I began work as an organiser for what was then known as the liquor, hospitality and miscellaneous workers union, now United Voice, that I saw the full impact of youth wages on the lives of young people trying to support adult lives on less than minimum wages. Often when people consider this issue they imagine students working a few hours a week to pay for trips to the movies or perhaps a trendy pair of sneakers.
What they do not consider is the impact that being remunerated at 80 per cent of the minimum wage has on young people trying to establish independent lives, pay rent, cover the transport costs which come with employment or provide for a family. These young people are not a minority. By the age of 21 nearly 70 per cent of people are living or have lived outside the family home. Of those remaining at home, a significant number contribute to the finances of their family’s household.
For these young people the cost of youth wages is longer hours. For some, this means less time to study. For others it means less time at home with their kids. For all of them, it means less time to spend socialising, pursuing interests, playing sport and just enjoying being young.
But I am speaking on this issue today because I want all of my young constituents, and the generations of workers who will come after them, to receive a pay cheque that reflects the 100 per cent commitment they bring to their work and the contribution it makes to our city. Adult workers deserve adult wages and I encourage other members of the Assembly to support this important campaign.
MRS JONES (Molonglo) (4.42): On Thursday, 25 April we commemorated the 98th Anzac Day, the anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps troops at Gallipoli. The significance of this day is growing with each passing year and each passing decade. As the ambassador for Anzac Day and VC awardee Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith said, “Freedom is not free.” There are many men and women who willingly give of themselves to serve the nation in the Royal Australian