Friday, November 08, 2013

A Living Wage for Auckland

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has proposed a living wage for Auckland Council staff:

Auckland Council's lowest-paid workers are in line for a pay rise if Auckland Mayor Len Brown's proposed budget goes through.

Brown said the "living wage" of $18.40 an hour would go to all workers on the lowest wages.

The adult minimum wage is $13.75 an hour.

Brown said the plan would cost an additional $3.75 million a year but it would be phased in over three years and funded by savings from other parts of the budget.

And he's already made the first saving, cutting the salary of the Council's new CEO by $150,000 a year. And that's where it should come from - according to the Herald's version, Auckland Council has 1500 people paid over $100,000 a year (vs 1623 paid under the living wage). If the entire $3.75 million comes from them, its $2500 each - which over three years is easily achievable by restraining top-end pay rises and hiring new staff on more reasonable (that is, lower) salaries.

Local governments are legally required to be good employers (so, incidentally, are government departments, Crown Entities and SOEs). Paying your employees enough to live in dignity is a basic part of that. But National supports subsidising bad employers with taxpayer's money through the welfare system, so we won't be seeing any progress from them. If central government won't lead, then we should pressure local government to do so.