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Higher wages the only answer to rising living cost

April 16, 2008
Media Release

Higher wages the only answer to rising living costs – EPMU

Employers shouldn’t be surprised if rocketing food prices and decreasing housing affordability result in demands for increased wages in upcoming wage rounds so New Zealanders can maintain a decent standard of living, says New Zealand’s largest private sector union.

Today’s Fairfax home loan affordability report showing housing affordability is at its worst in six years and yesterday’s announcement that food prices have risen 6% will come as no surprise to working New Zealanders struggling to pay their families’ food bills and housing costs - and without higher wages the situation will only get worse.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little says as the cost of living continues to rise wages need to follow.

“Our economy has been booming this decade and it is still growing but Kiwi workers are not seeing their fair share of that.

“For working people, a larger proportion of their household budgets are spent on food and basic living costs, so the pressure of price increases tend to be felt more than those on higher incomes.

“We’ve watched the pay of CEOs of large companies increase by 25% in the last year and corporate profits continue to grow, but many of the working people whose hard work is driving these big numbers are struggling to pay their rents and mortgages or even buy basics like cheese and milk.

“A typical example we’re seeing right now is at Ecolab where our members have been on strike for two weeks to try to get a basic industry-standard deal out of a company that turns over five and a half billion US dollars a year.

“Until we see stronger provisions for working New Zealanders to get their fair share increased living costs will continue to mean many struggle while a few at the top reap the rewards of our strong economy, and that’s not the Kiwi way.”

The EPMU led the FairShare campaign in 2005 and EPMU members continue to get higher and more regular wage increases than non-union workers.

In a recent EPMU survey of 466 Auckland jobseekers 113 (24%) had not had a pay rise for three years or longer. In the last three years the cost of living has increased by 9.5%. In same the same time food prices have increased by 115%, petrol by 40% and housing by 39.4%.


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