Workers want Bluff to be a Living Wage town
The Southland community celebrated the launch of Living Wage Bluff on November 18. More than 70 people attended including Sanford’s workers, St Anne’s Catholic Basilica, Awarua Social and Health Services, E tū and other unions, local leaders, and business people.
Sanford’s delegate Linda Bevin, who is also the chairperson of the Bluff network, was thrilled with the event.
“I think it went really well,” Linda says. “The stories people told were really powerful, especially from workers that are on single incomes.”
Workers in the country’s most southern town shared their stories of low pay and how they needed to organise for a Living Wage.
“They talked about how tough it is, having to dip into savings and things like that just to get simple household items,” says Linda.
Linda says that getting a Living Wage for Bluff is about future-proofing the town.
“It’s about our future and the future generations. There aren’t many opportunities outside of fisheries for people in Bluff, and you just can’t live properly on low wages.”
Tabitha Jessiman, an E tū member at Sanford, told the meeting: “I can’t participate in the community because I don’t have the funds, I can’t repair my house because I don’t have the funds, my daughter can’t play softball because I don’t have the funds.
“It would be less stressful not having to live pay cheque to pay cheque and every week having to decide which bills I will pay and which I won’t.”
With the campaign underway, the next step for the Living Wage Network Sanford’s workers is a letter to Sandford Chief Executive, Volker Kuntzsc, asking his profitable fishing company to support lifting these workers out of poverty.
Push for Porirua Living Wage
Living Wage campaigners have a commitment from Porirua Mayor Mike Tana to work towards including the Living Wage in the Porirua City Council’s District Plan.
At a meeting organised as part of Living Wage Week, the Mayor was presented with 50 letters, signed by local community leaders, politicians and employers, urging him to introduce the Living Wage for council workers and contractors. The mayor said yes. However, he committed to the Living Wage during his election campaign and so far there has been little progress. By contrast, Wellington City Council is now a fully Accredited Living Wage Employer.
Teau Marama, an E tū member at the Porirua Union and Community Health Service who attended the meeting, says families in Porirua are struggling and she has a message for Mike: “The cost of living goes up every other day. So how about it? The Living Wage is not extreme.”
The Living Wage is life-changing
Recon security guard Wayne Richdale knows how hard it is to live on low wages. When he began his security career, Wayne was earning the minimum wage.
“You struggle,” Wayne says. “You can’t eat properly, you work long hours, and you still can’t pay the bills.”
At one point, Wayne was working 72 hours a week to make ends meet. That was until E tū members at Wellington City Council won the Living Wage for workers employed by contractors like Recon.
“Now I can work 48 hours a week. It’s still tough. People think that standing on your feet for 12 hours is an easy job. Well, I say to that, next time you watch TV, try standing in front of it for five hours and see how you feel.”
Wayne says low wages are still a huge problem in the security industry.
“If I wasn’t working at a council location, I wouldn’t be on the Living Wage. I’d have to look for a second part-time job as the cost of essentials like food and groceries keeps going up.
“I believe all security guards should get the Living Wage. You’ve got to look at the overall context – for example, it would actually solve a lot of health problems. People would be able to afford fruit and vegetables, instead of relying on fast food. You’d deal with some of the homelessness problems, especially when you have situations in Auckland with two people earning and they still can’t pay the rent.”