Wellington victorious as first Living Wage Council

This was the right thing to do to make Wellington a more inclusive city.” Mayor Justin Lester

Wellington City Council has become the first council in Aotearoa New Zealand to become an accredited Living Wage Employer.  It is a signal of the extraordinary impact our Movement is having on the lives of workers and their families.

The Living Wage is transforming Aotearoa New Zealand. It is changing the narrative about the labour market; it is changing the standards for public and private sector wage setting; and, it is shifting the way we work together across civil society to build the kind of democracy we want. On September 3 we congratulated the 110 public, non-government and private sector businesses that took a stand for justice and a fair wage.

Six years ago, a conversation began about the growing working poor in this rich western nation, Aotearoa. Five years ago, the Living Wage Movement Aotearoa was born. Its primary focus was joining together the diverse organisations of civil society to win a Living Wage by influencing the public officials who could re-distribute public money. We wanted to raise our voices in unison for a decent society where workers would earn enough to survive and participate in society.

On September 1, we succeeded.  Wellington City Council became the first accredited Living Wage Council in New Zealand.  That means the lowest paid workers, who clean our capital city, and who are employed by contractors, will earn no less than $20.55 per hour.

On September 1, core public service workers were all employed on no less than the Living Wage because the current Government promised our communities they would do this, and they have.

At the same time, the Auckland City Council took their employees to the second of three steps to a Living Wage and are now on a minimum rate of $19.50; and, the Christchurch City Council moved to extend its implementation of the Living Wage across its council-controlled organisations.

We have moved faster and further than so many others campaigning for living wages – and this Movement with all its volunteers, supporters, Member Groups and advocates can be proud - because we are transforming Aotearoa.