Social procurement for a Just Transition in Southland

Union members and our community allies in Southland have explored the concept of social procurement, and what it means for a Just Transition, in a recent symposium.

The Social Procurement Symposium was co-hosted by E tū and Murihiku Regeneration to build a consensus in the Southland community about the use of private and public procurement.

At the heart of social procurement is the simple idea that when making decisions to buy goods and services, governments and organisations need to look beyond just the immediate cost and consider the wider impact that their procurement has on society.

Good social procurement means workers getting decent work, such as a minimum of a Living Wage and secure employment, which has flow-on effects in local economies. It means keeping environmental and economic sustainability front and centre. It also means proper engagement with affected communities to ensure their needs are being met.

People at the symposium heard from experts, Tania Pouwhare from Auckland Council’s The Southern Initiative, and Craig Renney, from the Council of Trade Unions.

Karena Kelland, a member of E tū’s Public and Commercial Services Industry Council, got a lot out of the symposium.

“I found the event very good. I just think that social procurement is exactly what we need, on our society as a whole. I truly believe that it will deliver Decent Work to those who have been excluded before”, Karena says.

“Personally, I try to shop locally, and I want to be able to shop Living Wage as well.”

“Tania made a good point that Māori and Pasefika have basically been left behind. If you have a conscience, then you need to give workers more than the bare minimum. People should be paid what they’re worth.”

Karena says that lifting wages is a fundamental part of social procurement, because it benefits everyone in the area, and that her city council and local businesses should step up.

“We need to pay the Living Wage across the community. I think the Invercargill City Council needs to become an accredited council. A comment was made in a work group that we could identify firms that already pay the Living Wage, and make them local champions for the Living Wage Movement.

“Personally, I try to shop locally, and I want to be able to shop Living Wage as well.”