Coun­cil ‘no’ to liv­ing wage for Porirua

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

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.

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