PRESS RELEASE THURSDAY 2 MARCH 2017

Campaign promises already broken on Living Wage

Last night the Finance and Performance Committee of Council considered a report on the Living Wage. This looked at introducing a Living Wage for directly employed Council Staff and investigating further options around people employed via contract.

The debate was conducted in public excluded to protect legally privileged legal opinions that had been provided to the Hutt City Council.

After receiving this information, Mayor Wallace moved a recommendation which was an attempt to be pragmatic, but showed an unwillingness to take any leadership on the issue.

It was moved that Council direct the CEO to look at introducing a Living Wage for employees currently below it, after taking into account the legal aspects of ‘cost effectiveness’ in the Local Government Act.

The CEO advised that this option would likely see only a handful, if any, employees (out of 232) lifted to a Living Wage.

Councillor Campbell Barry argued that the recommendation was an attempt to pass the buck “This motion shows an unwillingness to take leadership, and is essentially saying, no we won’t pay a fair wage to our lowest paid employees, and we will make the CEO deliver the bad news.”

A motion was also tabled by Cr Briggs and Barry to ‘support the living wage in principle’, this however was voted down by the Mayor and other Councillors, some, who were already breaking their campaign promises on a Living Wage.

“As a Council, and leaders in our City, we need to be courageous with our actions. We must not shy away because we are scared of being challenged.

There is significant evidence across the board that shows benefits in paying our lowest paid workers a fair wage for a fair day’s work, and it shows we value them for the work they do.

There are legal opinions on both sides of this debate, whether a living wage could be successfully challenged or not, shouldn’t drive our decision. Lifting the wages of our lowest paid workers should be a fight we are ready to take on because it is the right thing to do.” says Councillor Barry.

The recommendations passed are still required to be debated and finalised by Full Council on 14th March.

Information:

  • The living wage for directly employed Council employees would cost $570,000 per annum which would be 0.33% of Council’s total expenditure.
  • Council will be releasing shortly the recommendations passed and how Councillors voted.
  • A redacted version of the minutes and debate is available via an Offical Information Act request.

Contact: Campbell Barry, 027 216 0364

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