Unions announce $18.40 living wage

Unions announced this morning that an hourly rate of $18.40 is the new required ’living wage’ in New Zealand.

The announcement comes after the Anglican Church Family Centre researchers in Wellington this week stated an hourly pay rate of $18-$20 is the basic rate needed for a family of two working adults and two children.

The living wage campaign is a joint community and union movement with the report receiving strong support from across the country.

Service and Food Workers Union National Secretary John Ryall says the report comes after workers saying they cannot live on the minimum wage of $13.50.

John says these comments provide evidence that workers need at least $18.40 just to live with the basic necessities in New Zealand.

Almost 750,000 people earn below the calculated ‘living wage’ including teachers, chefs, truck drivers, mechanics, cleaners and checkout operators.

The ‘living wage’ will not be made the law. Instead, unions are targeting major employers such as councils and universities to pay at least the living wage to their employees.

The unions are also asking cleaning and security companies to make the ‘living wage’ a condition in their contracts.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby says the $10 Tauranga allegation is a historical reputation the city has left behind.

He says an $18-$20 living wage would be more realistic for families living in Tauranga today.

“It is a more realistic figure to raise a family or live in New Zealand and Tauranga is becoming a more expensive place to live and the reason for that is it’s a popular place to live.

“There are two sides to this coin. One, their employer has to be able to earn the money to pay the wages and that’s really about good business and productivity of the company.

“From my experience good employers will pay employees what they’re worth.”

Stuart says one of the goals council has for Tauranga is to attract higher paying businesses to the city.

Tauranga City Council is also trying to introduce a stronger university presence in Tauranga for people to have an opportunity to improve as a community.

“Generally qualifications do go with higher wages.”

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Max Mason says $18-$20 is a reasonable estimate of the income needed to sustain a certain quality of life, but says the minimum wage should stay the same.

“There has to be a balance between what employers can afford, and the productivity and contribution of the employee. 

“Unfortunately until we raise our productivity as a country our wages are not going to increase.  We need to focus on raising skill levels and supporting initiatives to raise productivity in other ways.”   

Max says the Tauranga and Western BOP median wage is $14-15 per hour and although that is low, raising incomes is a community challenge, not just the Government’s responsibility to fix.

“As individuals we need to each take responsibility for our own value to an employer.  I know it’s really hard – especially for young people in a fickle economic environment - but in a general sense the more skills and education you have the more you will earn.”  

The figure is based on Otago University’s calculation of costs of a basic healthy diet for a family of four assuming all food is home cooked with no dining out or takeaways.

Other costs are based on the 2012 household economic survey showing a family of four spends an average of $158 per week on petrol and transport costs and $669 per week on costs excluding food and housing.

A Cabinet decision on any increase to the $13.50 an hour minimum wage is set to be made soon and will apply from April 1.

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captain sensible

Posted on 15-02-2013 16:59 | By lpm67

Love his comment. I’ll bet you think that min wage workers are all unskilled types who are lazy or didnt bother to do well at school. You might be interested in knowing that alot of qualified nurses in Tauranga, are being paid not much more than the minimum wage and certainly below hats now being recommended as a minimum. And yes I do know this for an absolute fact!!!

Union delegate wages

Posted on 14-02-2013 16:43 | By PLONKER

They are always a lot more than the members, little liek MP’s voting themselves ever more pay and benefits. You got to wonder how the system got like that?

so right

Posted on 14-02-2013 16:40 | By lpm67

For once the mayor is right...its no longer $10 Tauranga...its the $13.50 Tauranga now, if you can get a job. And if its a family renting a very small property then all of one wage goes on rent so it does take at least two fulltime wages at that rate to reach a minimum standard. Most businesses could pay more, if they were paying their exec’s a reasonable rate, instead of the grandiose salaries most are getting. I am currently looking for work (ave 30 applications per week), I have always worked but work is drying up here....sure there are plenty of jobs advertised but there are sooooo many people looking. Today I applied for one position directly and in person only to be told that I’m wasting my time as around 500 applications were there before me (they only put a notice up in their window 2 days ago).


Posted on 14-02-2013 16:39 | By Captain Sensible

So everyone above the minimum wage will lose relativity and demand a higher wage. This will make the cost of living go up and all these "minimum wage" people who have just got a pay rise will find themselves no better off. DUH!


Posted on 14-02-2013 16:21 | By traceybjammet

reading the herald today apparantly our minimum wage is in the top four I guess that doesnt count the fact that Oz has a youth wage of between ten and 12.00 dollars. also according to statistics the majority of Kiwis already earn between 18.00 and 20.00 an hour. If wages artifically go up then some-one has to pay somewhere, business owners. ratepayers (if all council workers get pay-rises), and so on maybe unions should charge less fees so their members can have that money in their pockets


Posted on 14-02-2013 10:45 | By YOGI

If you want more wages then get more productivie, as for Councils and the likes they re already on average paid considerable incomes mostly way beyond the ability or contributions returned to those paying. There maybe a few teachers under $18/hour but the vast majoprity are well over this sum, with incomes between $40,000 - $125,000pa for a full time position. Although one needs to take account that the average teacher has about 10-12 weeks vacation annually also.


Posted on 14-02-2013 09:39 | By maccachic

How about bringing back free community education? Also is the living wage for the 4 person family with one or two parents working?


Posted on 14-02-2013 09:29 | By Blessed

U need money for further Skills and education, which many just cant afford.


Posted on 14-02-2013 09:23 | By Blessed

this is about right, $450 is not a livable wage in this day and age, Rent, power, food and Petrol give u nothing left for enjoyment, I agree with performance based Pay tho, as Productivity is what makes money. this should include our Politicians, Dreaming is free.....

Tax spectrum

Posted on 14-02-2013 09:13 | By SeanCresswell

AMEN [@frodo344] For businesses to pay more, they also need to keep more of their profits.

collect more taxes

Posted on 14-02-2013 08:14 | By frodo344

Maybe if the churches in NZ didn’t get a tax free haven for promoting a fairytale The government could tax businesses less, so they could afford to pay higher wages.

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