Life During Capitalism- one history student's perspective on life during capitalism

"To omit or to minimize these voices of resistance is to create the idea that power only rests with those who have the guns, who possess the wealth, who own the newspapers and the television stations. I want to point out that people who seem to have no power, whether working people, people of colour, or women-once they organize and protest and create movements-have a voice no government can suppress." Howard Zinn

Friday, September 08, 2006

Dancing Poverty Wages into History

Dancing Poverty Wages into History
By Omar Hamed

In New Zealand, 16-17 year olds can be legally paid $8.20 an hour for the same work as an 18-year- old who gets at least $10.25. Under-16-year-olds can be paid whatever the employer decides. When myself and a ragged bunch of young workers and students grouped together we came to one conclusion.

Enough is Enough! Paying young people a lower wage for equal work is discrimination pure and simple. The issue of youth rates is similar to that of pay equality for women with men. In both cases, a member of a social grouping is discriminated against in the workplace because they are a member of that social grouping.

Over the last few months thousands of students and young people have taken to the streets to demand “Equal Work for Equal Pay”. We have marched, danced, sung, laughed, cheered and pulled together all our meager resources to create a campaign designed to abolish youth rates.

On Monday, March 20 at noon in the heart of Auckland¹s Central Business District, one thousand high school students who had walked out of school that morning rallied and marched up and down Queen Street. The students were demonstrating the power of collective direct action; using their feet to vote for the Green Party initiated Minimum Wage Amendment Bill that will scrap youth rates for sixteen and seventeen year olds, to be passed.
500 youth and their trade union allies marched down Queen Street to mark International Workers Day on May 1 this year to demand an end to discrimination based on age.

Just three days later the Ministry of Justice advised the government that youth rates is an abuse of the Bill of Rights Act, news that has been greeted with pleasant surprise from the emerging youth movement against low pay and discrimination.

The youth rates campaign has proved that youth do have the power. They have the power that rests in wrestling back control of our cities, communities and culture back from those who seek to turn us in to wage slaves, good for nothing but slaving away in McDonalds or Pizza Hut.
I am hopeful that youth rates will be history by the end of the year.
I am hopeful that this is just the beginning.

Published in Morph #1 Community Arts Youth magazine of the Devonport Depot



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