Workers' unions have been quick to write off the Government's plan for a new, low, starting pay, while business leaders say it will help create jobs.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said the "starting-out" wage of $10.80 an hour would allow employers to pay eligible 16- to 19-year-olds no less than 80 per cent of the minimum wage, which is $13.50 an hour.

Ms Wilkinson said the introduction of the new wage, from April 1 next year, would help provide young New Zealanders with more opportunities to get into the workforce.

Food Service and Food Workers Union national secretary John Ryall said the Government's plan to cut pay for 16- to 19-year-olds would not create jobs or give young people any skills.

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