Winning the Living Wage

Celebrating Living Wage accreditation at Auckland Council

The Living Wage is ten years old this year. It is a campaign to address the poverty of working people in Aotearoa. This poverty impacts on families, communities, and our whole economy. A decade ago unions, faith groups, and community organisations came together to organise the power of people to win a Living Wage. We were united and passionate, we built local networks and held big assemblies. We took our message to the political leaders who could change the lives of thousands of people. And we did! Public sector contracted cleaners and security guards will now receive the minimum of a Living Wage when the contracts for service with governments are renewed.

The Living Wage is the hourly rate a worker needs to pay for the necessities of life and participate as active citizens in the community. It reflects basic expenses such as food, transportation, housing, and childcare, and is calculated independently each year by the New Zealand Family Centre Social Policy Unit. The rate is announced annually in April and fully reviewed every five years.

But it is not just communities that are celebrating. There are now over 350 accredited Living Wage Employers in Aotearoa who have adopted the Living Wage for their employees and contracted workers, delivering services on a regular and ongoing basis, like cleaners and security guards. These employers are from corporates including AMP, Westpac, Kiwibank, and Vector. They are from social enterprises like Downlights, and charities such as Auckland City Mission. They are also unions including E tū, NZEI and PSA.

All of those employers have stepped up to champion the Living Wage in their own sectors and in their own way, because they believe it is the right thing to do. They form the Principal Partner Council and act as catalysts in extending the reach and commitment of businesses to the concept of the Living Wage.

E tū is active in the Living Wage Movement, represented on the Principal Partner Council and Governance Board by Annie Newman and on the Accreditation Advisory Committee by Mat Danaher.

Living Wage and Principal Partners

“I believe that all citizens of Aotearoa have the right to the dignity afforded to them through fair pay.
Downlights is committed, through action, to challenge the commonly held perception that the disabled workforce is only suitable for low-paid unskilled, repetitive work. We have worked with our crew to develop their skills and confidence, to a point where we are confident to compare their work head-to-head against the work of the most skilled, non-disabled artisans. We do not, and never will, rely on the government wage exemptions that allow businesses to pay their workers as little as $2.00 per hour, and we are proud to state that our business model is predicated on the principles of fair pay and dignity for our workers. Tihei mauri ora! Let the new day begin.”

Jennifer Del Bel, Managing Director, Downlights New Zealand