No one does an event like Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ as you can see from our picture here, which reveals the big turn-out for the announcement of the new $20.55 an hour 2018 Living Wage.
The rate was unveiled on 4 April by Wellington Mayor, Justin Lester at a gathering of Living Wage supporters at the Wellington bar, The Rogue and Vagabond which recently joined the list of Accredited Living Wage Employers.
A cheer went up when Justin revealed the rate as workers, including E tū members Kit Bennett, Rebecca Kuach, and Lewis Madar joined him onstage.
Lewis, who works as a contracted security guard at Wellington Library earns the Living Wage, thanks to the Wellington City Council’s move to gain accreditation as a Living Wage Employer.
Lewis remembers how tough life was two years ago, when he worked long hours on the minimum wage to earn enough to live on. He describes the Living Wage as transformative.
“You don’t feel that stress of needing more hours and wondering how I’m going to pay the next bill or the rent. Life is better,” he says.
E tū member, Hemi Te Hiini is hopeful he too will soon earn the Living Wage. As a contract cleaner at parliament he is on the way to the Living Wage after the new Speaker, Trevor Mallard made it a condition of his employer gaining the parliamentary cleaning contract. When Hemi moves to the Living Wage at the beginning of next year he says it will make it easier for his family to pay the bills and also care for his son who has autism.
“The Living Wage would make things so much easier,” he says. “We’ve been on a waiting list and my son is finally being seen but once I get the Living Wage, we will be able to get the things he needs.”
Lewis gives the Living Wage this ringing endorsement: “This is just the beginning of what’s to come and it’s good to be a part of that, to be with people who care about workers,” he says.