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War Economy

Minimum Wages

page 458

Minimum Wages

Out of the special wartime measures to protect directed workers against loss of earnings came another piece of more permanent labour legislation.

In October 1942 minimum weekly wage rates had been fixed for workers in essential industries.1 These rates were raised in May 1945 by ten shillings for men, and by five shillings for women and juniors. The new order continued in force until June 1946 when it was revoked. In the meantime, an Act2 had been passed in December 1945, to secure minimum wages for all workers. This Act is still in force, and the minimum rates are from time to time altered by Order in Council.

The Act provides ‘an enforceable minimum wage for workers not subject to awards, industrial agreements, or other wage fixing machinery’.3 It also incorporates the same protection against reduction in the working week as was given to workers in essential industries.4 It provides that no deduction for time lost by any worker is to be made except for time lost ‘by reason of the default of the worker, or by reason of his illness or of any accident suffered by him.’

1 See p. 451.

2 The Minimum Wages Act 1945.

3 N. S. Woods, Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration in New Zealand, p. 165. This book also refers briefly to the Act at pp. 142 and 173.

4 See p. 451.