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Living wage campaign; time for political discussion

23 May 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT

Living wage campaign; time for political discussion

The community “Living Wage” campaign launched today will lead a long overdue dialogue about how we ensure working New Zealanders are paid enough to live decent lives and to participate in society, says Darien Fenton, Labour’s spokesperson on labour issues.

“Kiwis are working harder than ever, trying to do the right thing, yet they are still struggling. We know that wages in New Zealand are falling in real terms and there is now a huge gap between wages here and those paid in comparable countries.

“Every day thousands of people are getting up to go to work in jobs that pay barely above minimum wage.

“The measure of a decent society is ensuring everyone can earn a fair living and get ahead, but the only measure New Zealand can show at the moment is increasing income inequality and child poverty.

“What that does is put pressure on social services and community organisations as they battle to support those who are being paid well below what they should be,” Darien Fenton said.

“It’s simply not good enough to assert that low wages are an advantage for New Zealand, as the government has done, while ignoring the very real problems that have emerged in our low wage economy.

“This is not only a discussion for workers, unions and communities. It’s a political issue that needs to be part of the budget debate over the next few weeks.

“As Labour leader David Shearer pointed out in a speech he gave in April, it’s an idea that’s been catching on in the UK, where employers signing up to it include major players such as HSBC and KPMG, and where it now has cross-party support.

“Labour wholeheartedly supports the Living Wage campaign. We will ask the hard questions of government, and we will mobilise our community base to ensure that the discussion about a New Zealand where everyone can earn enough to provide a good living for their family, and at the same participate as active citizens, is at the forefront of political debate,” said Darien Fenton.

ends

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