2017 has seen a Living Wage council trifecta in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.
There’s a major victory in Wellington where the Council voted for an Annual Plan which extends the Living Wage to all Council contracted workers, with the Living Wage a requirement when contracts come up for renewal.
The Auckland Council (including its Council Controlled Organisations) and the Christchurch City Council have also voted to pay the Living Wage to directly employed staff.
In Auckland, this will be phased in over the next two and a half years, with pay increasing for more than 2000 council workers from September.
This pay increase includes E tū members and siblings, Corey and Reno Pavey, who work in the Aotea Centre and at the Civic Theatre.
“This is brilliant,” says Reno. “For one thing, it means I won’t have to work as many hours. At the moment, I sometimes work sixty hours a week including late nights and weekends, so I’m really looking forward
to being able to take some time off.”
“We attended the election forum at St Matthew-in-the-City last year where hundreds of people made the mayoral candidates promise to bring in the Living Wage,” says Corey.
“We’re really pleased to see how we have helped make this happen.”
In Christchurch, the Living Wage will be paid to directly employed staff from October, affecting about 470 staff.
The vote in Christchurch coincided with the visit to New Zealand of Alan Freeman, a Living Wage pioneer and former principal economist for the Greater London Authority.
Alan told Wellington Living Wage campaigners New Zealand has earned the right to “tell the world what the truth is,” as more employers, including councils, adopt the Living Wage.
“I’m struck by the fact that there seems to be emerging here some leaders with political courage and I don’t think that’s just a testimony to those leaders. I think it’s a testimony to the movement and the fact that they’re listening to that movement. And I think it tells us times are changing – and changing really rapidly,” says Alan.
Annual Plan lifts pay for Opetaia
E tū member Opetaia Siale has been a key player in Wellington’s Living Wage campaign, sharing his story of hardship on the Minimum Wage while working for Wellington City Council contractor, PPCS.
But since 1 August, Opetaia has been earning the Living Wage! That’s after PPCS renegotiated its contract with the Council. As a result Opetaia’s pay has risen from $15.75 to $20.20 an hour, which he describes as “beautiful!”
“I can afford to buy more things for my family,” he says. “And I can look forward to going on holiday – at Christmas time as well, because we can never afford to go, the cost of living is so high.”
Opetaia says it’s been a wonderful surprise for his wife as well.
“She can’t believe it. She says thank you to the City Council. And she appreciates what I did to support the union, and to support the Living Wage.”