It’s time Kapiti started talks for a Living Wage
By Lyndy McIntyre, Living Wage co-ordinator
Kapiti Independent News recently published two stories on the Living Wage.
It’s certainly a significant time for the Living Wage movement, with the announcement of the 2017/18 Living Wage employers and a historic vote by Wellington City Council.
The list of fully accredited Living wage employers has grown nationally to nearly 80. And a Kapiti College student, Patrick Bray, has asked locals to support Living Wage products and challenged local employers to step up and be the first in our district.
Roger Childs has asked when the KCDC will follow Wellington City Council’s example and adopt the Living Wage for the Council workforce.
Unanimous support in WCC
This is timely. On 28 June, Wellington City councillors unanimously endorsed an annual plan which sets WCC on a path to become New Zealand’s first Living Wage council.
From 1 July, WCC has been paying all directly-employed workers, and those employed in council controlled organisations, the NZ official Living Wage rate of $20.20.
Also included are around 60 cleaners and security guards who are employed via contractors.
There is also a commitment to deliver the Living Wage for all council workers working for contractors who deliver services on behalf of council in a regular and ongoing way, with cleaners and waste workers the priority. And the WCC will seek accreditation as an official Living Wage employer in this council term.
The pay rise will transform the lives of hundreds of low paid workers and their families — workers like Anne who says: “In 2011 my husband and I came from Samoa for a better life.
“But the work we got was cleaning on the minimum wage. We’ve got a toddler and a baby on the way.
“My husband works nights and I do mornings. We had to work long hours to get by and never saw each other. Our pay barely covered our rent, power and food. We were squeezed into a tiny room and we never made ends meet.
“Now we get the Living Wage. We’ve reduced our hours and spend time with our child. We’ve moved into a two-bedroom place with space for our baby to play. We are not living a life of luxury but it just got better.”
Wellingtonians committed to a Living wage
Wellington City Council made a commitment to adopting the Living Wage in June 2013. The proposal was consulted on in successive annual plan processes and overwhelmingly backed by Wellingtonians. Now Wellington will not just be the “Coolest Little Capital”, but the “Fairest Little Capital”.
Auckland Council has begun the process of adopting the Living Wage for all directly-employed workers by 2019 and, closer to home, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Porirua and Hutt councils have all taken steps towards adopting the Living Wage.
What does this mean for KCDC?
The KCDC should follow WCC’s lead. The first step is to support the principle of becoming a Living Wage council and then work through the best way to achieve this.
It doesn’t have to happen all at once and it may not be a big expense. But it is simply not acceptable for our community leaders to employ workers on less than the Living Wage.
Everywhere commitment to the Living wage have been won, this has been the result of a call from local communities. In Wellington, Auckland, Porirua and Hutt City, faith groups, unions and community organisations have united in the Living Wage Movement to build power in the community to call on their political leaders to adopt the Living Wage.
Time for Kapiti to catch up
It’s time for Kapiti Coast District Council to catch up and start the conversation about the Living Wage. If you’re part of a faith group, community organisation or union or simply a supporter who wants to address inequality in our community, contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org
( Editor’s note: Lyndy McIntyre lives in Paekakariki and is the regional coordinator of the Living Wage Movement (Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ). Between 2007 and 2010 she was a Kapiti Coast District Councillor)