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Lifting low pay must be part addressing child poverty

28 August 2012

Lifting low pay must be part addressing child poverty

The union representing some of New Zealand’s lowest paid workers has welcomed the Children’s Commissioner’s expert advisory group’s report on child poverty, but says lifting New Zealand’s low pay rates must be part of the solution.

“A warrant of fitness for rental housing, a child payment and more support for food at school programmes are all good initiatives and should be implemented,” said Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota (SFWU) National Secretary John Ryall.

“But the single most significant factor causing child poverty for working families is low pay. Until wages are lifted, thousands of working families will remain in poverty.”

John Ryall said the panel’s aim to “support families into paid work” and endorsement of “sustainable and family-friendly work” would not lift families out of poverty if mum and dad still had to work 60 or 70 hours a week to survive.

“The cleaners, caretakers, security guards and thousands of other workers who are bringing up families on wages close to the minimum wage of $13.50 an hour simply cannot put food on the table and these recommendations will not change that,” he said.

“It is time to significantly lift the wages of the low-paid to enable working families to provide the basic necessities for their families and also to participate in family and community life.”

John Ryall said the Service and Food Workers Union, along with over 80 community and faith-based organisations and other unions will hold the Wellington launch of Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand on Thursday (30 August) at Wesley Methodist Church.

“Momentum is strongly building around this new movement for a living wage as a means to address poverty and inequality in New Zealand," said John Ryall.

“Supporting parents into work is one step, but making sure every worker is paid a living wage is essential to addressing child poverty.”

ENDS

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