23 May 2012
Launch of Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand campaign today
A new campaign to fight poverty and inequality will be launched in Auckland today. Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand has the support of over 60 community organisations, churches and unions.
The launch marks the beginning of a new community movement, with a goal to end poverty wages and achieve a living wage for all workers.
The Service and Food Workers Union Ngā Ringa Tota initiated the campaign. SFWU National Secretary, John Ryall, said discontent in New Zealand about poverty and inequality was growing and the campaign was built on this momentum.
“We need a significant shift in the pay rates of workers to make a difference to poverty,” he said. “A living wage is one that enables all workers to provide the necessities of life and participate in their communities.”
John Ryall said it was timely that the campaign was launched the day before the Budget.
“Instead of obsessively focussing on a miniscule surplus in 2015, Government should address poverty in New Zealand in 2012,” he said.
“Ordinary working families are barely able to survive on low pay and are going without basic needs like heating, quality food and decent clothing because their incomes are too low.”
John Ryall said the strong backing for the living wage campaign from community organisations and churches, as well as the solid support of the trade union movement, meant the campaign had a broad base and would grow into a powerful new force for change.
Overseas successful living wage campaigns have resulted in commitments from local and central governments and corporates to pay a living wage. In London the living wage is 37% above the minimum wage. London living wage employers include Greater London Council and London Olympics 2012.
John Ryall said alongside building community support for the living wage, work had begun into determining a living wage.
“We expect some smart employers will put their hands up to become living wage employers very quickly,” he said. “Publicly-funded organisations and institutions should take a lead by paying a living wage to their workers and wealthy corporates should take the lead in the private sector,” he said.