Living Wage

Avei Toaitiiti addresses MPs and the public at a Living Wage event at parliament

Living Wage focus for Government workers

It was a very special gathering as Living Wage supporters rallied outside parliament on the first day of the new Government, as part of events to mark Living Wage Week.

Government MPs mingled with the crowd as speakers celebrated the Government’s commitment to pay the Living Wage to directly employed public servants as well as workers contracted to the public service.

E tū member, Avei Toaitiiti, spoke about the high cost of her low pay and long hours working as a contract security guard at the Reserve Bank for just over $16 an hour.

“Minimum wage for me is going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark,” she said.

“As a parent, it’s heart-breaking when your child comes up and tells you she hardly sees you anymore because of your long working hours.

“The Living Wage for me would mean fewer hours working and more time with my family, with my daughter and loved ones. The Living Wage means being able to meet my necessities and to have leisure time.”

Parliamentary contract cleaner, Eseta Ailao who was also at the rally works long hours on low pay.

“I work two jobs,” says Eseta. “I start at 6 in the evening, finish at 10. After that, I come to parliament, start at 12 and finish at 6 in the morning. It’s hard.”

The good news is, the Government has said parliamentary contract cleaners will get the Living Wage before the end of 2019.

Avei told the rally workers like herself would be supporting the Government to do the right thing and honour its Living Wage pledge: “As our lovely Prime Minister would say, ‘Let’s do this!’”

A cheer also went up for Tamati Coffey, owner of the Ponsonby Road Lounge Bar in Rotorua, and Jo Luxton of Headstart Early Learning Centre in Hinds. Both are now Labour MPs and the first Living Wage Employers to enter parliament.

Vector first Living Wage corporate

Power company Vector has become the first big corporate to join the Living Wage Employer Accreditation programme.

This is a great endorsement of the programme and your union hopes Vector’s participation will lift the profile of the Living Wage within the power sector and among other corporates.

Vector pays its directly employed staff well above Living Wage rates. But it has also committed to paying its contract cleaning staff the Living Wage when the contract comes up for renewal next year.

E tū’s Convenor of the Communications Industry Council, Remi Emery, has welcomed the move which he says will set an example for other asset owners and encourage them to follow suit.

“Vector is paying the Living Wage. All its many contractors need to do the same,” he says.

Vector is already speaking with its supply companies about this.