20 May 2013
More Evidence of Growing Need for Living Wage in Pacific Report
“A report released by the Salvation Army today adds weight to the growing volume of evidence of a significant working poor who are slipping into poverty in our country,” said Service and Food Workers Union Ngā Ringa Tota National Secretary John Ryall today.
“It is more compelling evidence for the need for a living wage and should be wake up call for central and local government and large corporate employers to act now to lift very low pay.”
The Salvation Army report on the state of Pasifika people in New Zealand (More Than Churches, Rugby and Festivals) tells a chilling story of Pacific families going hungry, swelling the ranks of food bank queues and descending into debt.
“It is no surprise to our union, because many of our Pacific members, who are cleaners, caregivers and service workers, are paid as little as ten cents higher than the minimum wage, which is simply not enough to survive on, let alone lead decent, dignified lives,” said John Ryall.
“Our members increasingly tell us they cannot afford the most basic household necessities and despite long hours of work, doing very hard jobs, such as cleaning and caregiving, their fear is that their children are missing out.”
John Ryall said, included in this huge, marginalised group of the new working poor, were thousands of Pacific families reliant on their wages from publicly-funded jobs like cleaning at city councils and Parliament and caregiving in aged care.
“It’s time for local and central government to acknowledge that it is totally unacceptable for this to continue and to take steps to implement the living wage of $18.40 for all workers funded by public money,” he said.
“Congratulations to the Salvation Army for highlighting the grim reality of poverty pay. Now we need to see leadership from public and private sector employers and action on the growing call of communities, churches and unions for the living wage for all workers.”