Living Wage Endorsed for Capital

12 June 2013

Wellington has taken a major step toward becoming New Zealand’s first truly Living Wage city, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said today

During debate on the Wellington City Council’s draft annual plan, in response to many submissions the Strategy and Policy Committee amended recommendations so that Council agree to support in principle becoming a Living Wage Council and a Living Wage Capital. The recommendations will go to the full Council meeting June 27 for a final decision.

The decision also provided for $250,000 in the 2013/14 Annual Plan, to implement a Living Wage programme following a report due November 2013. The report will examine how a Living Wage programme could be phased in, the impact on council’s procurement policy and future tendering arrangements and the role for council in advocating for a Living Wage Capital.

"We want a successful high-growth, high-value economy in Wellington," said Mayor Wade-Brown. "The Living Wage is the income necessary to enable more workers and their families to participate in society.

"Evidence shows that a Living Wage in London and Baltimore has increased productivity, worker morale and reduced staff turnover, so this is a positive move for Council as an employer.

"A Living Wage will enable workers to live with dignity, engage as active citizens in society, and help parents actually be parents – coaching, entertaining and supporting their kids instead of working 70 hours a week to put food on the table.

"Increasingly our communities are experiencing in-work poverty as the gap between wages and survival grows. The community pays for this shortfall, in poor education and health outcomes, higher crime rates, weakening local economies, child poverty, a deterioration in community engagement with civil society groups, and the growing presence of crippling debt," she said.

Cr Justin Lester, who seconded the Living Wage amendments, said today’s vote provided a unique opportunity for the Council to show national leadership.

"Today’s decision shows that Wellington City Council values its workers and is willing to take a lead on equality of opportunity for all people," says Cr Lester. "We know that people working three jobs to make ends meet find it incredibly difficult to study or participate in local issues.

"By implementing a living wage, Wellington City Council can demonstrate the real value in having its workers on a Living Wage, we can show other local authorities how it can be done, and we can advocate to Wellington businesses how a Living Wage can be good for business.

"Some businesses won’t be in a position to implement a Living Wage and we acknowledge that, but today’s decision won’t preclude Wellington businesses from aspiring to introduce a Living Wage."