And just like that the Labour-Green-New Zealand First Government has announced that all employees in the core public service will be paid a minimum of the living wage.
From the Beehive website:
All employees in the core public service will receive an hourly rate of at least $20.55, the 2018 Living Wage, Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins announced today.
The new hourly rate – or annualised equivalent of $42,744 – includes full-time, part-time and casual employees and will be implemented by a one-off adjustment in pay with effect by 1 September 2018.
“This decision is about supporting fair pay and employment conditions for a decent standard of living for all New Zealanders,” Chris Hipkins said.
“This government strongly believes that every worker should be in a situation where the pay they receive means they can at least make ends meet.
“Most of the workers who will benefit work in 13 government departments, and work in jobs including clerical and administration workers, welfare workers, contact centre workers and assistant customs officers.
“The departments will meet the estimated $7.23 million cost of the one-off adjustment from within their baselines.
“In subsequent years, the rate will be subject to bargaining between government employers and unions such as the New Zealand Public Service Association.
“We know there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of low pay. This decision for the lowest paid workers in the Public Service is one of a range of initiatives the Government is implementing to tackle the difference between the highest and lowest paid.”
And the relevant Cabinet Paper has been proactively released.
The total cost is a very modest $7.22 million and 2,048 employees will be affected. I suspect there will be flow on adjustments as pay differentials are sorted out despite what is said in the Cabinet Paper. And there will still remain the issue of Government contracts with providers of, for example, cleaning services which is why fair pay bargaining is such an important concept.
Not everyone is happy. The misnamed Taxpayers Union thinks the announcement is morally questionable and the set figure arbitrary is politically determined. The only response I can think of is diddums.
All in all this is a good start.