Call to pay living wage

Invercargill city councillors have given the nod to five ‘‘shovel-ready’’ projects totalling more...
Invercargill City Council. PHOTO: ODT FILES
An Invercargill woman and a Catholic priest have encouraged the city council to become an accredited living wage employer.

During an Invercargill City Council meeting, Anna Huffstutler, a member of the Bluff Living Wage group, asked the council to follow the examples of Dunedin and Wellington City Council.

She noted success in other areas of business including the private sector — including banks.

Fr Pat McGettigan said he had supported the initiative since 2012.

"We are gathered here as a small group today to plead for the lowest-paid council workers that they receive at least a living wage ... that they can live with some dignity and respect in our community."

The living wage rate is voluntary and is now $22.10 per hour.

It reflects the basic expenses of workers and their families such as food, transportation, housing and childcare, and is calculated each year by the New Zealand Family Centre Social Policy Unit.

Cr Graham Lewis referred to the living wage campaign in Bluff last year and asked about its impact.

"With Sanford, as a result of our campaign there, we lifted probably 90% of those workers to on or above the current living wage," Ms Huffstutler said.

"We have other employers in Bluff who also pay their workers the living wage."

Cr Ian Pottinger raised the point "$22.10 an hour in Invercargill goes a long way further than $22.10 in Auckland" due to costs of both cities.

Ms Huffstutler said the cost of living in Invercargill was "increasing significantly".

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