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Labour’s Living Wage Policy Supports Positive Change In Public Sector

The Public Service Association welcomes Labour’s promise to guarantee many government contractors are paid at least the Living Wage of $22.10 per hour.

"Public Service Association members work alongside contractors like cleaners, caterers and security guards every day, and we strongly support them being paid the Living Wage," says PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay.

"The PSA also expects the policy will extend to include those working for labour hire companies within the public service, who are fundamentally doing the same job as the public servants they work alongside."

The policy initially extends only to the core public service, but the PSA argues contractors working in DHBs and the wider state sector should also be included.

"Low wages condemn far too many New Zealanders to a life of working poverty. The PSA has campaigned for years to close the public sector wage gap, and we are deeply opposed to the existence of a second-tier workforce in government agencies," says Mr Barclay.

"Contracting services out to the lowest bidder drives wages down, reduces accountability and standards, and condemns contracted workers to a life where they have fewer rights and protections than their permanently employed colleagues. Everyone deserves a Living Wage and we congratulate the Labour Party for committing to this policy, which will help employers face up to the real cost of outsourcing these services and might lead them to think twice before doing so in future."

The Ministry of Social Development has already committed to paying contracted security guards a Living Wage.

In August the government announced security staff in managed isolation and quarantine services will be directly employed, rather than relying on private contractors.

"Times are changing, and outdated assumptions about how the economy should function are being fundamentally challenged. Government should lead by example and invest in the wellbeing of working people and their families, rather than treating staff as a cost to be managed," says Mr Barclay.

"There are thousands of New Zealanders whose employment should be brought in house, rather than outsourced to a third party. Thousands more are classified as private contractors when they should be employees, with access to holiday pay, sick leave and so on. We hope policies like Labour’s Living Wage commitment signal a shift toward secure work with decent pay and conditions for all."

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