John Key, as expected, failed to take any sort of lead – or even fast following – on the Living Wage campaign.
It’s “a matter for them” – businesses and workers – not something for a mere Prime Minister to be interested in.
He thinks it’s nice if businesses pay more as they can afford it, but obviously doesn’t see higher wages as a priority.
To my friends on the Right – “but they shouldn’t pay it if they can’t afford it” – I say: it’s a matter of priorities, and as Living Wage advocates proselytise, it often works out cost neutral.
Is the top management’s pay a priority? It evidently is as we’ve seen the top tier of earners keep on getting healthy pay rises.
It often works out cost neutral because of reduced turnover and increased productivity driven by the higher morale of valued workers. Workers who aren’t working a second job to pay the power bill and can be more devoted to you as well as their family.
But no, to John Key, it’s only about if there are any crumbs left over for workers after the cake has been divided.
Overseas local and central governments have taken the lead on the Living Wage. With the sense of Social Responsibility such organisations are meant to be infused with, they don’t want to send their workers home at the end of the day without enough to eat properly. So they make sure they pay the Living Wage, and any company they procure to do work must pay the Living Wage.
I’m talking Parliament’s cleaners here – and Bill English’s.
Unfortunately it’s clear from his attitude that the example Key will be leading with won’t be a good one.