The Council of Trade Unions says an economic recession is no barrier to a lift in the minimum wage.
As part of its just-released election policy, the CTU is pushing for the minimum wage to be lifted to two thirds of the average, or $15 an hour.
Other key aspects of the policy include providing more training and development for workers and increasing the number of paid weeks' leave for parents from 14 to 26.
The CTU's president, Helen Kelly, says low wages are not necessarily linked to low profit.
She says some of New Zealand's more profitable industries, such as aged care, fast food and banks, are paying the lowest wages of all.