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Council's rejection of the Living Wage a missed opportunity

Council's rejection of the Living Wage a missed opportunity say PSA
Thursday 31 May 2018

Palmerston North City Council’s decision to reject the living wage for its staff is a missed opportunity to lead the way among New Zealand employers, the Public Service Association says.

After a lengthy debate on the issue this week, a council committee voted by a narrow margin to reject introducing the living wage for its lowest paid staff.
PSA organiser Kevin Bunker said council’s decision is significant, given the fact that along with the District Health Board, the local authority is one of the biggest employers in the area.

"This was an opportunity to lead the way and make a statement to other employers when it comes to expecting them to step up to the mark.

"It sets the bar for other employers in that area to respond to. It’s the council’s job to make it easy for other employers to follow suit. There’s also the effect of the council demonstrating to other employers in the area it is committed to the living wage.

"The council should be looking to follow in the footsteps of other cities like Wellington, who have embraced the Living Wage."

Mr Bunker said that with so few councils across New Zealand having already introduced the living wage for its workers, Palmerston North had the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

"In the oral submission I made to the council on this matter I said that its low wage earners have been suffering under the previous regime for some time.

"The council had the chance to pull them out of that low wage cycle. In addition I can’t imagine the cost of introducing the living wage would be high.

However Mr Bunker said this wasn’t an issue the council would be able to fight forever.

"The Living Wage is an irresistible force really, they are going to have to accept it sooner or later, it’s just a pity they didn’t do it this time."


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