Category: Living Wage

Labour’s Living Wage policy “real victory” for low wage workers

E tū congratulates the Labour Party for saying yes to a Living Wage for all contracted workers in government.

The Government currently pays the Living Wage to all workers in the public service. However, the new policy would see contractors, such as cleaners, security guards and caterers, now included.

It was announced by the party’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson, Andrew Little, and Economic Development spokesperson, Phil Twyford, at E tū in Auckland on Saturday.

E tū member Rose Kavapalu, who has worked for 15 years as a cleaner on just above minimum wage, says she is so thankful to Labour for promising a Living Wage for her and all cleaners in the sector.

“I’ll only have to work one job, and I’ll have more time to spend with my family and my grandkids.

“With the Living Wage, I’ll be able to pay my debt – that’s why I had to move in with my parents because I couldn’t afford [to live].”

Fellow E tū member and security guard Fa’atalatala Matamu says it was 12 years since her last pay rise, before the Government delivered the Living Wage to all guards at the Ministry of Social Development from September 1.

“Before we were struggling, we had to work long hours. I’m humbled to stand in front of you today and say ‘thank you, Labour’ for the pay rise.

“Now I’m able to pay off all my debts – as I had been taking loan after loan, just to survive. Doing a job for so many years that wasn’t paid enough to afford my own home – I’m [now] looking at that one as well.

“I’ll be able to save money, to help my grandkids who I haven’t been able to spend much on, because of the low wage that we receive.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary and National Convenor of Living Wage Movement Annie Newman says the policy has been “a long time coming” for thousands of cleaners, security guards, and catering workers who currently live in poverty and work excessive hours just to make ends meet.

“In the COVID-19 recovery, the economy needs workers purchasing goods and services and that will only happen if they are paid a decent wage. Every dollar our members earn goes straight back into the local economy and that’s good for everyone,” she says.

“Finally, we are seeing a policy that values essential workers who are ensuring the health and safety of the rest of us during these difficult times.

“They are putting their lives on the line for us and should be receiving a decent income that enables them to be full participants in society – it’s only fair.”

Annie says the policy is a “real victory” for all the workers and the communities that want to put an end to a low wage economy.

“Once the Government shows leadership in paying a Living Wage to all their workers, we know standards will shift in other sectors across the board.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

Huge Living Wage victory for MSD guards

Ministry of Social Development (MSD) security guards across the country are thrilled today to learn that they will finally be moving up to at least the Living Wage of $22.10 per hour.

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced today that around 400 Tautiaki (security guards) will be paid at least the Living Wage from 1 September.

 It comes after years of campaigning for public service workers who are employed by contractors to be paid at least the Living Wage.

MSD keep Work and Income offices across the country safe and secure. They are often posted outside Work and Income offices for hours at a time in all weather.

Robert Duston says it can be a hard job, but one he enjoys.

“I like being able to help less fortunate people have a good day and feel that they’ve had a good experience. “Yes the Living Wage has taken a long time, but I’m really happy the Government has recognised we’re worth it.”

Robert says: “It’s my 50th birthday next year and earning the Living Wage for me means that I can start saving to go on a holiday and not have to worry about paying bills along the way.”

E tū organiser Yvette Taylor says that the announcement amounts to a promise finally honoured by the Government.

“In 2017, all three government parties committed to paying at least the Living Wage to people employed by contractors in the core public service,” Yvette says.

“The way to deliver that is by making the Living Wage the minimum rate that people must be paid when negotiating with government contractors for services like security.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Yvette Taylor, 027 585 6120

Auckland Council’s contracted cleaners to get Living Wage

Living Wage campaigners in Auckland are celebrating the news that Auckland Council has committed to paying a Living Wage to all its contracted cleaners in this council term.

On July 30, Auckland Council passed its Emergency Budget, which included the Living Wage commitment to the council’s contracted cleaners.

Members of the Living Wage Movement Aotearoa New Zealand were present at the Governing Body meeting on Thursday morning.

Former E tū delegate Malia Langi is relieved and happy the Living Wage will now be a reality for her colleagues.

A cleaner for six years, Malia says: “Now there’s no more worries. I’ll feel relieved now it’s been passed – everything that we were working and campaigning for the past eight years,” she says.

“We just thank all our supporters, our communities, our union, and everybody that was on our side.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says it’s a great achievement for the movement to see Auckland Council extending the Living Wage to more workers.

“The wages of the lowest paid directly employed council workers were lifted to a Living Wage in 2019 and we’re absolutely thrilled that this has now been extended to contracted cleaners.

“This is a great step forward in creating a decent, fair system of social procurement. Our aspiration is to see all workers throughout New Zealand on the Living Wage.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

Living Wage promise: Government running out of time

The Government are running out of time to honour their 2017 promise to pay the Living Wage to core government workers employed by contractors.

All three Government parties made the commitment in the 2017 election campaign to “support and promote changing government procurement policies to ensure that all contracted workers, who are delivering a regular and ongoing service to the core public service, move to the Living Wage within the next term of government”.

Today, on International Day of Justice for Cleaners and Security Guards, E tū members are urging the Government to recognise their value by sticking to that Living Wage commitment.

E tū member and Otahuhu Police Station cleaner, Rose Kavapalu, was recognised by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during the COVID-19 lockdown for the hard work that she does.

Now, Rose and her family have had to move in with relatives because they simply cannot afford Auckland rents.

“I am left with no choice but to move in with my family and live with my parents as I couldn’t afford the $400 rent anymore,” Rose says.

“Even though I work two jobs, 65 hours a week on the minimum wage. By the end of the week, my body is sore and so tired I am left with no energy to enjoy life with my family.”

Rose says receiving the Living Wage could change her family’s situation overnight.           

“I will be able to work one job, able to afford the rent, and most of all enjoy spending quality time with my family.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says COVID-19 has led to public recognition of essential workers and the crucial work they do.

“The crisis and response has highlighted what cleaners and security guards have always known – that their work is essential, difficult, and risky, while their low pay is barely enough to make ends meet,” Annie says.

“As we rebuild our economy, we must no longer accept that low wages are OK for anyone, especially essential workers. The Government has a responsibility to play a leadership role here.

“They have done the right thing by paying the Living Wage to directly employed workers in the core public service. Now’s the time to honour the promise to their cleaners and security guards – they are the stars who are shining bright through COVID-19.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

We’ve won the Living Wage at schools!

Pressure from E tū members wins living wage commitment for directly employed school cleaners, caretakers, canteen workers, and ground staff

As you may have heard over the weekend, the Labour Party has confirmed their intention to lift wages for E tū members directly employed in schools to the Living Wage. This announcement came on the back of pressure from E tū not to leave the lowest paid in schools out of their commitment to the Living Wage at schools. 

Your E tū bargaining team is in negotiations with MOE officials on December 11 and will be discussing how and when the Living Wage will be delivered, as well as margins recognising skills, qualifications, services, and duties undertaken by caretakers and ground staff. 

Another priority in this process will be protections against contracting out of this commitment and potential cuts in hours with added pressure on schools operations budget funding which currently also covers your wages. 

We are seeking reasonable compensation for availability for caretakers who have been carrying phones and/or attending call-outs. This is a requirement of a legislative change from 2016 so we will be seeking back pay for members. 

We will update you following this meeting, but in the meantime, keep the pressure on making this change happen quickly by asking your fellow cleaners, canteen workers, caretakers, and ground staff, to join with you in E tū! They can join online at etu.nz/join 

E tū welcomes Living Wage at Queenstown Airport

Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) have announced that they are officially an accredited Living Wage Employer, with all of their workers being paid at least $21.15.

Crucially, this includes workers employed by contractors such as cleaners and security guards, who must be paid the Living Wage for accreditation because they deliver regular and ongoing services to QAC.

E tū’s Head of Aviation, Savage, congratulates QAC for taking this step.

“It’s fantastic to see Queenstown Airport Corporation taking the lead in the industry by prioritising fair wages for their workers,” Savage says.

“We hope other airport and ground handling companies follow Queenstown’s example and make sure their directly employed and contracted workers are all on at least the Living Wage.

“E tū Aviation union members are committed to making aviation the first Living Wage industry in New Zealand. There is big money to be made in aviation and tourism – it’s important that standards remain high and aviation workers get their fair share.”

Savage says that Queenstown is an area where decent wages are especially important.

“Kiwis all over the country are dealing with high living costs and Queenstown workers have it especially tough at the moment. This will make a real difference to the affected workers as well as the wider Queenstown community.”

Local E tū member Fiona Lawson, who works at the airport for an airline, hopes this will encourage more Queenstown businesses to get on board.

“It’s exciting to have the airport take such a significant step for their workers, and hopefully it creates some momentum for Living Wages in Queenstown,” Fiona says.

“It’s also time for the Queenstown Lake District Council to commit to paying all their staff the Living Wage, like other councils across New Zealand are doing.

“It’s been empowering to see what local Living Wage networks have been able to achieve for low paid workers. People deserve better wages, and this is how we get them.”

ENDS

For more information and comment, contact Savage on 027 590 0074

Note: Living Wage accreditation has been achieved by QAC because all of their directly employed and contracted workers will now earn the Living Wage, though it does not cover companies that use the airport space, such as airlines and retail outlets.

E tū welcomes New Plymouth Living Wage vote

E tū has welcomed Tuesday night’s decision by the New Plymouth District Council to pay the Living Wage to its directly employed workers.

The Council voted to pay the Living Wage of $21.15 to eligible workers from 1 July 2020.

E tū Team Leader, Jen Natoli says the vote follows years of advocating by local unions for the council to pay its workers the Living Wage.

“E tū, then the EPMU, together with the PSA and the Staff Association have been raising this claim since 2013. We’ve worked successfully with the council since then to lift pay for the council’s lowest-paid workers. However, Council policy had restricted our ability to secure the Living Wage as a minimum. 

“Last night’s vote changed that policy and has finally cleared the way for the council’s directly employed workers to receive the Living Wage,” says Jen.

“We still need to win the Living Wage for our council-contracted members, but this is a great start.”

The vote followed the Living Wage election forum in New Plymouth on Monday night, where   23 out of 24 candidates committed to supporting the Living Wage for directly employed council staff.

Fifteen candidates also supported the Living Wage for the Council’s contracted workers, as well as including the Living Wage and decent jobs in Council procurement practices.

Councillor & former Mayor, Harry Duynhoven has been a vocal advocate of the Living Wage for years and current Mayor, Neil Holdom and Chief Executive, Craig Stevenson have also supported Living Wage principles for council staff.

E tū local government delegate, Toni Kelsen is ecstatic at the Council’s vote. 

“It’s pretty impressive to finally see our community and Council supporting the workers who keep our community tidy and provide services we all benefit from,” says Toni. 

“It’s been a long time coming and I think the forum our union organised helped push this decision through.”

E tū delegate, Stephan Reijmer agrees. 

“This is an excellent outcome, exciting and life-changing stuff!  It’s nice to see local government staff being valued for our contribution to our community,” he says.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Jen Natoli Team Leader E tū ph. 027 591 0041

Jen can also provide contact details for Toni Kelsen and Stephan Reijmer.

Celebrations mark Living Wage at Wreda

Wellington’s Mayor Justin Lester will today host an afternoon tea to celebrate the payment of the Living Wage of $21.15 to directly employed workers at Wreda (Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency).

More than half Wreda’s 250-plus workforce are set to benefit, including hosts/ushers, cleaners, operations staff and iSite workers.

Permanent staff moved to the 2018 Living Wage rate on 1 July and their pay will increase to the 2019 rate of $21.15 on 1 September, when casual workers will also receive the Living Wage.

The increases follow on-going campaigning with Living Wage Wellington that resulted in Wellington City Council becoming the first local body to be an accredited Living Wage Employer.

“This is another victory for Wellington workers and a step towards Wellington becoming a Living Wage city,” says Yvette Taylor, E tū’s Campaign Team Leader.

“Many of these workers were on the minimum wage or not much above, so this will be transformative for them, their families and communities. It means they can live with dignity and participate in the life of our wonderful city.

“They work in iconic venues like the Opera House and Michael Fowler Centre which are at the centre of our city’s cultural life, so all Wellingtonians have a stake in this.

“We would like to thank Wreda and Wellington City Council for coming to the table and making it happen.”

Wreda host, Liz Noone, who was an early advocate for the Living Wage at Wreda, says she’s delighted.

“For me it’s about doing what’s right, valuing your staff, appreciating what people do and making sure everyone is looked after,” Liz says.

The event coincides with the release of the 2019 Accredited New Zealand Living Wage Employers List which was unveiled in Dunedin at midday today.

ENDS

What: Afternoon tea to celebrate the Living Wage at Wreda

Where: Mayor’s reception room, Level 8, 113 The Terrace, Wellington

When: Monday, 2 September, 3pm

For further information, contact:

Yvette Taylor E tū Campaign Team Leader, ph. 027 585 6120

Workers will be available at the event to speak to media. You can check out this year’s Accredited Living Wage Employers List via this link: https://www.livingwage.org.nz/accreditedemployers

Westpac leads the pack

E tū congratulates Westpac for becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Westpac is the first bank to become a Living Wage bank, following other large corporates like Vector and AMP.

While the bank’s directly employed staff are not affected, the workers employed by contractors will be getting a big pay bump as the Living Wage is rolled out.

E tū’s Living Wage Lead Organiser, Mat Danaher, says that it’s brilliant news for cleaners, security guards, and others.

“We know that workers employed by contractors can often get left out of the wages discussion. Westpac are showing that to truly be a responsible employer, anyone with regular and ongoing work in an organisation needs to be paid fairly,” Mat says.

“Many E tū members in jobs on or near the minimum wage have seen massive increases thanks to the Living Wage Movement and the employers who are stepping up to the plate.”

Mat says that it’s now time for other banks and wealthy organisations to get on board.

“Let’s face it – Westpac are one of very many organisations who could easily absorb the small cost of bringing workers employed by contractors up to the Living Wage. We’re calling on the other big Aussie banks, and indeed all large, profitable organisations, to take this important step.”

Mat says that organisations moving to the Living Wage has positive effects that reach further than just the workers who get an increase.

“All the evidence says that bringing up wages is the most straight-forward way to address inequality. This has massive flow-on effects for our whole economy. Low pay costs our country billions – through low productivity, poor health and education outcomes, and the government top ups that poverty wages necessitate.

“A big congratulations to Westpac for breaking the cycle. Our members across many industries and organisations are looking forward to achieving the same.”

ENDS

For more information and comment, please send Mat Danaher a text message – 021 336 519