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Government Living Wage: If Not Now Then When?

Friday 8 November 2019

The Living Wage West team met today with the Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni at her electorate office in Glen Eden West Auckland. The team want the Government to deliver on the commitment of candidates at the 2017 election to:

support and promote changing government procurement policies to ensure that all contracted workers, who are delivering a regular and ongoing service to the core public service, move to the Living Wage within the next term of government.”

The Government currently employs thousands of contractors as cleaners, security guards and catering staff, who work at core public service Government agency offices around the country. Paying them a Living Wage would make a massive difference in their lives and to the local economies where they live.

Minister Sepuloni heard from Tala Taiamoni, a cleaning supervisor at St Cuthbert’s School who said “These cleaners are carrying a vaccuum cleaner on their backs for more than 40 hours per week, working multiple jobs to put food on the table. I know of one worker who had to give up her children because she couldn’t afford to support them”.

The Living Wage West team were disappointed to hear from Minister Sepuloni that the timetable for introducing a Living Wage for Government employed contractors has not yet been set, but that the commitment was that it would be delivered in the current Parliamentary term. Minister Sepuloni stated that an all of Government policy regarding a Living Wage for Government contracted workers is currently being developed.

The Minister stated that Ministry for Social Development staff will be working with Government contractors to ensure that contracted workers are receiving any additional supplementary financial support to which they might be entitled. The Living Wage West team think it is disappointing that Government money will be spent to support workers via the benefit system rather than by directly paying them a Living Wage.

Minister Sepuloni stated that the Ministers responsible for Living Wage policy in Government are Hipkins, Twyford and Robertson and that she will be “encouraging them to push this along”.

The Living Wage West team held a rally at the Glen Eden WINZ office immediately following the meeting with Minister Sepuloni at which they demanded the rapid introduction of a Living Wage for Government contractors.

The Living Wage has been independently calculated at $21.15 per hour for 2019 and represents the amount that workers need in order to survive and participate in society. Many cities around the world, including London and 20% of UK councils have adopted the Living Wage. Council adoption in these cities has led the way to many businesses also stepping up to pay the Living Wage and enhance the overall economy.

Living Wage West spokesperson, Fala Haulangi says the impact of the living wage is huge. "People want to live, not just exist. Having to do two low paid jobs just to feed your family means that you can't enjoy a social life or get involved in community activities, you just don't have the time and energy. Earning a living wage puts more spending power back into the local economy, which benefits everyone. Workers don’t want to have to rely on addition Government handouts, they tell us they want to set a good example to their children by being self reliant."

ENDS


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