Wednesday, May 23, 2012

For a living wage

The Service And Food Workers Union kicked off a campaign in Auckland today for a living wage: a wage sufficient to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life and allow them to live with dignity and participate fully in society. In theory, that's what the minimum wage is meant to do. But it has been eroded and eroded and eroded, to the extent that those receiving it can barely scrape by.

The campaign will focus on calculating a living wage, then on persuading employers - and particularly central and local government and their contractors - to agree to pay it. There are obvious advantages for employees, and for employers - lower staff turnover and absenteeism, higher productivity and morale, and an improved public image - and a similar campaign in the UK is already delivering benefits. Hopefully the SFWU's campaign will be even more successful.

The biggest problem with our economy is not government debt; it is low living standards, caused by low wages. If we want to "close the gap with Australia" (as the government insists it is doing, while implementing policies to do the opposite), we need to target wages directly.

If you'd like to get involved inthe campaign, you can contact them here.