Today the campaign for a Living Wage – an $18.40 an hour pay rate for hard-working New Zealanders – took another big step forward with an amazing presentation to the Wellington City Council.
A huge delegation, one of the biggest the council has seen in a long time, was led by St Andrews on the Terrace minister Margaret Mayman, who urged the council to become New Zealand’s first Living Wage council.
“We love living in this beautiful and vibrant city, and we want everybody to be able to participate fully in everything that Wellington to offer its citizens,” she said.
Many council staff – “your people” – earned little more than the minimum wage, Mayman said.
To tackle that, the council was urged to: take the lead in making Wellington a Living Wage city; work with the Living Wage movement to provide an implementation plan to ensure all staff, whether directly employed or by contractors, get the Living Wage; and support local businesses to become Living Wage employers.
Councillors will vote this afternoon on whether to accept the above ideas.
Phil Jones from Thames Publications added his support. “I believe that if we don’t pay our society the wages they need to live, we are in strife,” he said. Thanks to having better paid and trained staff, his firm had low turnover, and more money circulating in society was good for business in general.
Maliki Rahman, a WCC contract cleaner on $13.85 an hour, said: “It’s a struggle to keep up with living costs, to provide healthy food, decent clothes, and coming into winder, the bills are going up.” To give its staff “a better and decent life”, he urged the council to adopt the Living Wage.
Finally, Justine McDonald, the principal of Kelburn Normal School, said teachers were constantly seeing children affected by poverty, and it stopped the school from providing “a starting platform for all children”. Children were coming to school hungry or not properly clotherd because their parents didn’t earn enough to make ends meet.
The school helped cover some costs, but parents “don’t like having the hand-outs” and would rather earn the money themselves, she said.
In conclusion, Mayman referred to remarks by John Key that Wellington was “a dying city”, and said, “Not only is Wellington a living city, but I think we can look forward to Wellington soon being a Living Wage city.”