Volley South first Living Wage accredited sporting organisation

Volley South has become New Zealand’s first sporting organisation to become an accredited living wage employer.

Board member Dion Williams raised the idea of joining the movement earlier this year.

It came after Volley South – previously known as Volleyball Southland - made changes to its staffing structure in February and ramped up its commitment to support people within the volleyball community.

New Zealand's adult minimum wage is set at $20 per hour, while the living wage, as of Wednesday, has been calculated at $22.75.

Living Wage Aotearoa believe the difference between the minimum wage and the living wage is the difference between just surviving, and being able to participate in a decent life.

Accredited organisations commit to paying all employees and any contractors at least $22.75 per hour.

“We believe in people being recognised for the work they do and saw the living wage as one part of a wider programme of recognition,” Williams said about Volley South’s decision to join.

Volley South has had a 26 percent growth in participation numbers over the past 12 months, with volleyball now the fourth most played sport at secondary level in Southland, behind rugby, netball, and basketball.

In February the Volley South board changed its staffing structure where it removed its one permanent full-time employee and employed various casual staff instead.

It now has about 13 casual employees on its books with those employees working in short blocks on different projects.

An example was the work it does running volleyball in Queenstown. Instead of having a permanent staff member based in Invercargill running those competitions they now have a casual employee in Queenstown.

Volley South chairperson Donna Milne said 90 percent of the casual employees had been attracted from within the volleyball community. By providing those added employments opportunities at a living wage rate Volley South was supporting their own, Milne said.

The new structure without a single permanent staff member was more flexible and financially efficient, and as a result Volley South had been able to make that living wage commitment, Milne said.

Milne added the spin-off was those employees feel valued and were more likely to put everything into the role.

“Working in sport can be tough, there’s a lot of work at nights. They should be rewarded for that,” Milne said.

Milne was proud that Volley South was a leader in New Zealand sport in terms of living wage accreditation.

She encouraged other sporting bodies to also go through the process.

Living Wage Aotearoa accreditation programme co-ordinator Felicia Scherrer congratulated Volley South on becoming the first New Zealand sporting organisation to be accredited.

“Participation in sport offers a multitude of benefits, physical and mental well-being, as well as, connection and community. However, income can sometimes present a barrier to participation,” Scherrer said.

“Volley South are breaking down the barriers for their workers to participate actively in society.”

Volley South is now one of three Southland-based organisations that are accredited. The others are the SBS Bank and Rape and Abuse Support (Southland).

Living Wage Invercargill committee member Jinnette Pickford thanked Volley South for taking a lead on becoming accredited.

“We appreciate the extra public reach sports organisations have in their communities and the value this has in promoting the payment of the living wage to low-income workers. This will help their families live with dignity and respect.”

Pickford urged all Southland employers to pay their staff at least the living wage of $22.75.

“Large employers in particular should not only be paying their staff at least the living wage but also become accredited living wage employers by ensuring that their contractors are paying the living wage.

“This spreads the practice of living wage payments throughout the community and stops the undercutting of wages paid by good employers by employers who want to compete by paying staff low wages.”

Originally published on stuff.co.nz