Council ‘no’ to living wage for Porirua
An extra $200,000 will be made available to support the lowestearning Porirua City Council employees, but the council has sidestepped bringing in a living wage.
At a meeting on Thursday, councillors decided not to introduce a living wage based on officers’ advice that it would be too expensive.
Instead it narrowly voted 5-4 to accept Porirua mayor Nick Leggett’s Annual Plan amendment to create a $200,000 pool to help the salaries of full time permanent employees who currently earn ‘‘at a level around the minimum wage’’.
It was not known exactly what the money would be used for.
Living Wage Aotearoa have put the living wage at $19.80, higher than the legal minimum wage of $15.25.
Leggett said there was a movement gathering to implement the living wage and the $200,000 was part of that.
The lump sum, while short of what the living wage would have required, will still add 0.4 per cent to Porirua rates. The forecasted rates rise – due to be finalised on June 29 – will likely be 3.3 per cent instead of a projected 2.9 per cent.
Councillor Izzy Ford said she and her Eastern ward colleagues come into regular contact with minimum wage workers and a bump in pay packets would be gratefully received.
‘‘This council can show leader- ship and encourage people to feel more empowered,’’ she said.
However, Tim Sheppard echoed his Northern ward colleagues’ thoughts when he said the living wage was a central government issue.
‘‘It’s the point I’ve been struggling with – whether it is a matter for us as an employer or for the Government because it is a social cost. This extra burden on rates will be felt by our elderly and those on fixed incomes.’’
Earlier, councillors voted in a general 2.25 per cent increase across the board for all council employees.
Porirua Chamber of Commerce executive director Tracy Johnson said the claim that employees are loyal, happier and less-stressed on a higher wage is overstated.
‘‘Chamber members were ‘‘overwhelming’’ in their desire for a living wage not to be implemented.
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Supporters of the living wage presented in large numbers during Porirua City Council Annual Plan hearings in May.