Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Positive side-effects from the living wage

Last week, Wellington City Council adopted a living wage for its staff. One of the criticisms of the move was that it only applied to direct employees of the council, and that contractors and CCO employees would miss out. But it looks like the Council is going to solve that problem too - by returning services in-house:

The Wellington City Council has today voted not to continue contracting out its parking services and instead to directly employ the workers.

“The council’s decision to take parking services in-house and directly employ this part of their workforce is a good decision for the existing workforce and the city,” said Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) National Secretary, John Ryall today.

The parking services workers are members of the SFWU.

“It is our understanding that the existing workforce will be able to move to these jobs,” said John Ryall. “This is great news for our members and their families, as they will also move to the living wage, along with the rest of the Council’s directly employed workforce.”

This is a good move. Contracting out has been one of the major drivers of poverty wages, as parasite contractors lowball each other and then make workers pay for their bidding strategy (while of course collecting fat fees themselves for their "work" as middlemen). And the nature of contracting strips the workers of leverage for industrial action - they can strike, but their legal employer can credibly say that they have money to give because of the lowball bid price, while their real employer can switch contractors to avoid the effects of a strike. So its good to see Wellington City Council beginning to reverse that entire toxic system, and accept responsibility for those who work for it.