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Government challenged to come up with solutions on low wages

Media release: Living Wage Movement Aotearoa New Zealand
Friday November 1, 2013

Government challenged to come up with solutions on low wages

The Living Wage Movement has called on Government to contribute constructive solutions to the growing poverty among working New Zealanders in the light of Treasury’s recent report on the Living Wage.

“Finance Minister Bill English’s criticism this afternoon of the Living Wage Movement was accompanied with very little comment on what the Government would do to address low wages,” said Annie Newman, Convenor, Living Wage Movement Aotearoa New Zealand.

Annie Newman said support for the Living Wage movement was rapidly growing,

“Over 200 community organisations, faith groups and unions are now calling for a Living Wage because increasingly workers and their families cannot survive and participate in their society on the weekly pay packet. Across society people recognise the need for practical solutions. That is what the Living Wage offers,” she said.

“Over the last 30 years, New Zealand has gone from one of the most equal countries in the developed world to one of the most unequal. Two in every five children living in poverty come from households where at least one person is in full time work or unemployed. An increasing number of New Zealanders know this is wrong, and want to see something done about it.”

Annie Newman said the Treasury Report showed large numbers of workers would benefit from a Living Wage. The research shows the extent to which employers are being subsidised through Government and the failure of that subsidy to alleviate poverty.

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“If the Government is arguing that people’s hardship cannot be addressed by pay rises then it should be increasing Working For Families and benefits,” she said. “Neither employers nor Government have been prepared to take responsibility for the real cost of labour. We would expect the Government to welcome businesses who step up to pay the Living Wage because they know it is fair and good for business.”

Annie Newman said an employer accreditation process will soon be finalised that will issue a license to employers that meet the criteria for a Living Wage business, including that all workers, directly employed and contracted, are paid a Living Wage.

She said the Living Wage movement is not a campaign to increase the Minimum Wage and not, therefore compulsory. The Living Wage targets public money and willing, ethical businesses.

The Living Wage is not a figure which applies to one model family, but a rate based on calculated need and a methodology used all around the world to calculate the relevant Living Wage.


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