Living Wage people power at the local elections

A full house and full commitments at the Living Wage Wellington Election Forum

The Living Wage has become well-established as a hot local elections issue. 

E tū always joins with other unions, faith groups, and community organisations in the Living Wage Movement to put our Living Wage expectations to candidates as a crucial part of the Living Wage victories we have had across Aotearoa.

This year was no different. The Living Wage Forums held in Auckland, Hamilton, Porirua, Lower Hutt, Wellington, Christchurch, and Invercargill all had their unique local flavour, and all called on their council candidates to progress their Living Wage journey.  

In Auckland, the new mayor Wayne Brown attended the Forum and signed up to all the asks, including, applying for accreditation as an official Living Wage Council this term – a huge milestone for the Auckland arm of the Movement. 

Mayors and councillors supporting the Living Wage were elected in many other parts of the country. 

The community turned out for a lively forum in Invercargill, where E tū delegate Karen Brown shared her story of how important it was to win the Living Wage at Southern Institute of Technology, where she works as a cleaner.  

“As a cleaner, I’ve struggled to pay bills because our rate of pay was the lowest in any Polytech in New Zealand,” Karen told the crowd.

“I’m now on the Living Wage, after 22 years. It took a lot of struggle, a lot of fight, and a lot of energy to get there. Since we’ve had the Living Wage, our lives have turned around. We can actually live our lives comfortably.

“That’s why I’m calling on our local government to pay the Living Wage. I know that there are council cleaners her in Invercargill that are now on the minimum wage, and it’s time for council to step up.”

All candidates in attendance stood up to indicate their support for the Living Wage asks, including full implementation of the Living Wage and championing the Living Wage in the local community. 

In Auckland, Invercargill, and everywhere in between, local E tū activists put in the hard yards to make the forums a success. 

With many E tū members working for councils or companies that contract services to councils, we know that winning commitments from candidates truly helps improve the lives of E tū members, their families, and their communities.