The Dunedin City Council is being asked to support the Kiwi
Living Wage campaign, despite a warning any pay rise for
council staff could backfire for the city's most impoverished
The campaign, which would be formally unveiled later this
week, was expected to include a push to lift the minimum wage
from $13.50 an hour to between $18 and $20 an hour.
Dunedin city councillors at yesterday's council public forum
were asked to back the campaign by Service and Food Workers'
Union organiser Ann Galloway.
However, Cr Lee Vandervis warned the council employed a
''significant number'' of workers in some areas paid less
than $18 an hour, including some library and cleaning staff.
Any pay rise for those council employees would have to
covered by rates, meaning a rates rise for all ratepayers,
including those already on minimum wages, he said.
''You would simply be taking it from one group of low-wage
workers and giving it to another,'' he said.
Mrs Galloway said she would be happy to see her rates used in
such a way, but accepted it might not be practical to
suddenly give council employees a pay rise.
Instead, she wanted the council to be a leader by giving
support for the campaign ''in principle'', at the very least,
if implementation had to wait.
Speaking earlier, Mrs Galloway told councillors workers
needed a living wage to ''survive and participate'' in
society, and the council - like other employers - could play
That could include giving council staff a pay rise as well as
changing the way it used contractors, she suggested.
The council's procurement policy could be amended so
decisions about which contractors the council employed were
based in part on whether the companies offered their workers
a living wage.
In return, employers like the council would receive benefits
such as increased worker morale and productivity, and reduced
absenteeism, she said.
At present, 270,000 children were estimated to be living in
poverty, of which 40% were from families where at least one
parent was in full-time employment, she told councillors.
Mayor Dave Cull told the meeting the council's procurement
policy was already being reviewed by council chief executive
Mrs Galloway's suggested changes to the policy would be
referred to Mr Orders to consider as part of that work, Mr