So, it is 2018 and the Living Wage Movement enters its sixth year with so many victories under its belt. The last amazing win of 2017 was the Wellington City Council by-election victory in the Southern Ward. Fleur Fitzsimons made a public commitment to the Living Wage in the campaign and will join so many of her fellow councillors advocating and voting to ensure the capital city is the first accredited Living Wage Employer council in Aotearoa.
This caps off a year in which we welcomed our first corporate, Vector, alongside hospitality businesses, Wiri Licensing Trust, Kai Pasifika and Rogue and Vagabond. We also advanced the Living Wage at other councils with Auckland and Christchurch raising the bottom up toward the current Living Wage. Now, with commitments to a Living Wage from all the parties in Government, the core public service is set to raise the bar for both directly employed and contracted workers. The Movement will have its first meeting with Government ministers to discuss implementation this month.
Below: New Wellington City Councillor, Fleur Fitzsimons
It's an exciting time for Living Wage members and supporters as we move closer to securing a Living Wage for Auckland Council workers. Last week the Governing Body of the Council met to vote and pass the consultation document and supporting material for the Annual Budget. From 27 February the Annual Budget will go out for public consultation, it includes the implementation of a Living Wage for Auckland Council directly employed and CCO staff. Please have your say and place a submission in favour of a Living Wage. Let's put an end to in-work-poverty at Auckland Council!
It is also a good time to remind Auckland Council that paying directly employed and CCO staff is just the beginning and they cannot leave contracted workers out in the cold. 40% of UK Councils and the Scottish Government are Living Wage Employers. It's not complicated, it just requires forethought, planning and prioritising.
The increase in the minimum wage to $15.75 on April 1, is too little too late for workers earning a low income. It won’t make the necessary difference to meet back-to-school costs. Only the Living Wage will do that. With less than $20 extra per week, the increase fails to provide a living wage to meet the extra financial demands faced by families with children returning to school. As we know, the current Living Wage is $19.80 and the 2017 rate is due to be announced on February 21.
Felicia Scherrer(pictured below) is currently working as a community organiser for the Living Wage Movement and reflects on the burden of low wages on families. Read more…
Everyone is talking about the fact that two men have a combined wealth equal to the poorest thirty percent of the population. People are rightly angry that this has been allowed to happen, and are looking for answers. Judging by Finance Minister Steven Joyce’s performance in the media on Monday the government doesn’t have any, “good on ‘em” seems to be Mr Joyce’s view.
People are also deeply concerned by the fact that a significant number of our rich do not appear to be paying their fair share of tax.
It is important that we focus on the real people behind the headlines, in the Living Wage Movement we know from our institutions and their members the real cost to everyday working people of an unequal society. Parents going hungry to feed their kids, not being able to afford new school uniforms when they go back after the summer break. Having to use benefits to top up low pay, and having to work many more hours per week than they should just to meet the rent. The latest headlines will have faded by Friday.
Meanwhile, if you want to do something about inequality now is your chance. A growing movement of unions, community groups, faith institutions, and employers are coming together to call for a Living Wage, for all working people to have a chance of a decent life.
Six local councils, will soon be consulting on their budget proposals, which thanks to the Living Wage Movement includes the Living Wage for council staff. We need to be part of that to make sure that residents are saying “yes, we do want that, and we want it for directly employed, and contracted staff as well.”
If you want us to work with you, or your community around winning the Living Wage, If you want to make a real difference to people’s everyday lives, if you want to reduce inequality; get in touch.
The Living Wage has already transformed the lives of thousands of working people around the world and here at home.
Oxfam Inequality Report Here https://www.oxfam.org.nz/news/just-eight-men-own-same-wealth-half-world
The Living Wage campaign at Auckland Council took a huge step forward today, with the council voting unanimously for the Mayor’s Annual Budget to go out for public consultation. The plan includes a proposal to introduce the Living Wage over three years, for those directly employed by Auckland Council as well as those employed by Council Controlled Organisations.
Living Wage Auckland attended the council meeting and Agnes Villi, a cleaner at Council-owned swimming pool West Wave presented a card to Mayor Phil Goff, signed by other council cleaners. The card thanked the council for their support, but reminded them of the many contracted workers who are not currently included in Phil Goff’s Living Wage plan. They are some of the lowest paid and cannot be forgotten.
The Annual Budget will now go out for public consultation and will be voted on in June. While there is a way to go before the Living Wage becomes reality, today we are celebrating this milestone on the path to transforming the lives of thousands of Auckland Council workers!
Sign up to Conscious Consumers and send businesses a message that you care about the decisions they make!
We’re happy to grow the Conscious Consumers movement and support businesses doing good for people and the planet. Living Wage Employers are CARING FOR WORKERS by paying a Living Wage.
Conscious Consumers now have a badge for Accredited Living Wage Employers in key sectors, and Living Wage supporters can now make their voices heard in their consumer choices.
Sign up to Conscious Consumers, register your values and card and give your dollars a voice! https://goo.gl/o4Ng65
Avoiding products that have been tested on animals or outrage at deep sea drilling are increasingly common. We don't like to think our actions cause suffering. Poverty wages also cause suffering and also should cause outrage. A recent decision by Auckland Council to oppose deep sea drilling could be a sign of a change of heart about their approach to their own low paid workforce. Read more in a recent blog by Annie Newman
Pictured below mayoral office cleaner, Malia Lagi, speaking for a Living Wage at the Auckland People’s Assembly
Living Wage Governance group meet Mayor Phil Goff in the first step to make a Living Wage Council a reality.
Living Wage Governance group meet Mayor Phil Goff in the first step to make a Living Wage Council a reality. The Mayor has made good on his promise of a committee to oversee implementation with a first meeting before Christmas. Our amazing Auckland supporters really made a difference in the 2016 elections! Pictured below: Susan Adams (St Matthew-in-the-City, John Ryall (E tū), and Diana Yukich (Titirangi Residents and Ratepayers).
Teshainesh Hibtit from the Eritrean community is part of the Auckland Resettled Community Coalition and recently attended the national Living Wage Movement training: Building Power in Our Communities: A 5-day residential leadership course.
This programme will be run in Auckland and Wellington in August next year so if you are from a Member Group, think about registering your interest. This is what Teshainesh says: “I learnt how to plan, think and empower people; it was very wonderful; it was practical as well as theory; and I learnt more than I expected to.”
The training is based on the practice of Industrial Areas Foundation, regarded as doing the best grassroots organising in the United States and it provides a model that is unique to NZ. The training aims to build the capacity and imagination of the Movement’s leaders from the faith, union and community sectors so they can join together in common cause and influence the people who can make a difference in the issues that matter to them.
“People together are power, not individuals alone. If we share ideas and we start small, one by one, developing relationships with others, then with other groups, together we can have power and gain solutions,” said Teshainesh.
A key element of the training is learning about effective action and conducting a mock political candidates’ meeting in front of guests. In Auckland, the training was followed by a real action, the Peoples’ Assembly: An Election Special, designed to gain a commitment from candidates to a Living Wage at Auckland Council. Teshainesh and other members of her community attended. It was a successful action and there is now a majority of councillors in Auckland who support raising some of the lowest paid workers in the city out of poverty.
“It showed that “practice makes perfect” – “we had a plan, we practiced, then we got people along” to the event and it was successful.
The training aims to make community leaders more confident and able to contribute to their communities. It is about growing the individual as well as the power of our organisations but there is a message in this: “Looking after yourself is important if you are going to lead others – health, rest time, our own community – this is important if you are going to be a role model.”
In April Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ community organiser, Lyndy McIntyre, visited the Glasgow office of the Scottish Poverty Alliance who coordinate the Scottish Living Wage campaign. This blog was written to note the announcement of the new UK Living Wage rate. Read more about it here
Pictured: Lyndy McIntyre with staff members of the Scottish Poverty Alliance.