Hickey on the living wage

Written By: - Date published: 9:39 am, October 12th, 2014 - 22 comments
Categories: business, wages - Tags: , , ,

Excellent piece by Bernard Hickey in The Herald this morning.

Living wage is good for everyone

Money in workers’ pockets gives them cash to spend and boosts the economy.

The piece begins with Hickey’s account of a positive experience at The Warehouse, then…

The Warehouse is one of a growing number of companies paying a “Living Wage”. From August 1, it started paying 4100 of its workers a “Career Retailer Wage” of at least $18.50 an hour. To qualify, they must have full training and 5000 hours’ experience. It represents a pay increase of 10-20 per cent.

Warehouse CEO Mark Powell estimated it would cost almost $6 million in extra wages, but it was an investment worth making. “The front-line in retail starts on the shop floor with enthusiastic team members and the competitive reality is that if customers aren’t served well, a business will ultimately fail,” Powell said. …

The Living Wage movement is one response to the growing realisation that slowing economic growth is partly because of a falling share of income going to wages, which depresses demand and investment.

Circuit breakers are needed to boost productivity and wages, and this is one of them. The Warehouse is hoping it will be a circuit breaker for their sales, profits and share price. For now, the Red Sheds have become the place where everyone gets enough of a Living Wage to buy those bargains.

Go read the whole piece. Makes sense doesn’t it.

22 comments on “Hickey on the living wage”

  1. Paul 1

    Maybe we could produce a list of companies that pay the Living Wage.
    And the large companies that pay minimum wage.

    • RedBaronCV 1.2

      Okay maybe they should have done more of this earlier or better etc etc. But at least they have done something so good on them. We need more businesses to step up to theses sorts of responsibilities along with training people to fill skill shortages and most importantly for them not to go whining to the government that there are skill shortages so they can import more labour to underpay.
      Some industries, trucking appears to be one, need to get off their collective butts and train the people they need not whinge for being put on the skills shoratges list. They also need to revise the image of whom they wish to train, more part time jobs for women , older people would go a long way to filling some industry gaps. This could be helped by creating modern unions who assisted with workforce planning.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    To qualify, they must have full training and 5000 hours’ experience.

    That’s like two and a half years of *not* being paid a living wage first. Sure, good to see them paying a living wage but even the people new at the job need to be able to live.

    One employer described the thinking: “You’d only need them to be another 30 per cent productive to be cost neutral, and 30 per cent is not a big jump, in terms of people wasting 30 per cent of their time on Facebook and texting.”

    Still full of economic baloney.

    • BevanJS 2.1

      Amazing that the Warehouse gets an advertorial for realising they could probably pay experienced staff that they’ve trained a bit more money. Advanced thinking that!

  3. Saarbo 3

    Related to this was the article on RNZ this morning investigation farm workers/foreign workers on dairy farms. In a nutshell the article said that work conditions are so bad on many dairy farms that it is only possible to get foreign workers who are used to even worse conditions in their home country. It also noted that Helen Kelly has been waging a Twitter campaign highlighting poorly paid jobs on Fonterra’s Fencepost website, Ive seen these tweets and looking at the reaction from farmers, it is quite effective. Personally I believe that if more people were aware of the conditions that many people are experiencing on dairy farms in New Zealand they would be appalled…these conditions are setting a new low standard for work conditions in NZ. Labour needs to be working harder in this area…I did question Andrew Little prior to the election on what Labour planned to do in this area and I didn’t get a very satisfactory reply, in fact, I couldn’t even understand what he had just told me. In my view Labour need to be looking at bringing in policy to implement this: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/10586157/Wages-and-overtime-urged-for-farm-staff

    • Marksman33 3.1

      Yes Saarbo, I made a point of listening to this interview this morning, even the Sri Lankan herd manager could see that the last thing we need is foreigners owning the majority of our farms. Of course they had predominately come from working on farms in the Middle East, as opposed to the serf conditions there, for immigrant workers ,NZ seems very good.

  4. venezia 4

    Saarbo… can you please give some details of the RadioNZ piece (Farm/foreign workers on dairy farms) you refer to in your first sentence? (the time it was played or better still a link?) I have checked the RadioNZ website, but doesn’t seem to be there.

    • Once Was Tim 4.1

      http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/insight (for 12 Sept)

      Good programme, and a follow up to one Phillipa Tolley did a while back.

      Btw….a bloody good argument for any new progressive government to dismantle the absolute bugger’s muddle of a Ministry called MoBIE – with all its conflicting interests (Needless to say the brainchild of Joyce)

  5. It is with sincere and heartfelt sadness that I have just heard of the death of Labour stalwart Paul Jellicich at Auckland.Devoted husband of the lively Dorothy .W

  6. James Thrace 6

    Farmers like getting overseas workers on contracts for $5 an hour. Generally they don’t like hiring kiwis especially for milking jobs.
    The lowered fonterra payout will also mean fewer jobs for kiwis. More working holiday visas being issued to young Argentinians and Chileans who love it here.
    I have two family members who have recently been laid off from their jobs on dairy farms. They refused to get paid less than $20 per hour after 6 years with the farm. The Argentinians? Getting paid $7.70 per hour on contract. They don’t get accommodation or food supplied either.

    • GregJ 6.1

      James – that is shocking.

      I assume they weren’t Union members?

      Helen Kelly has been hammering this for quite some time. You should encourage your family members to contact the CTU and share their stories.

      The increased corporatisation of farming in NZ is probably going to make this an ongoing issue.

    • vto 6.2

      How does that happen?

      I thought we had minimum wage legislation in this country. And merely calling it a contract rather than employment doesn’t cut the mustard.

      Slave drivers

      River destroyers

      What next?

      • GregJ 6.2.1

        It is possible that they are salaried – and that the hours worked actually exceeds that contracted – which could be quite common on a farm depending on circumstances (farming not being a completely 9-5 type job)

        Theoretically salary earners still need to earn the equivalent of at least the minimum wage for the total hours they work but it wouldn’t surprise me to see that regularly abused. Actually I’m sure I saw something recently in the press where farm labourers were making precisely that point.

        Still it seems very dodgy to me (effectively they are being paid 1/2 the minimum adult wage).

  7. Tracey 7

    just in case you were in any doubt about who is NOT going to stand idly by while anyone tries to cool the auckland property market… read tony alexander chief bnz economist rant in the central auckland property press…


    dont know if the link will work… but this kind of thinking will also want a halt to this living wage hysteria

  8. Gosman 8

    Wow! A private company paying staff extra without the need for government to force them to do so via a law change or Unions striking for same.

    • vto 8.1

      Your view gosman is always from such an oddball angle. It seems you have missed that it is not only the low paid who recognise that the minimum wage is not able to be lived on, but also now the richer and the capitalists in our midst.

      I posted this a couple of days ago on exactly this phenomenon http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-13102014/#comment-909213

      That you see this occurrence as some sort of tick for free enterprise rather than the recognition of the injustice of this governments attitudes and policies by its very own supporters no less, says more about your curious, linear and lonely view of the world.

      wake up man

      • Gosman 8.1.1

        Ahhh… no. I see this as a good example of how changes should occur as opposed to a blunt one size fits all approach that is forced on reluctant employers. If something is beneficial to both sides as you obviously think this is then you shouldn’t have too much problem convincing employers to take this up.

        • McFlock

          I agree, Gos, all employers should choose to pay their workers a living wage.

          But some employers are selfish fucks, so need to be forced to pay a living wage. Whether this is by legislation or employee action, I don’t give a fuck.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Nonsense Gosman: Lab5 put the question to bed once and for all, as if the evidence from everywhere else on the planet weren’t already quite clear.

          If reluctant employers were convinced by evidence there’d be no National Party.

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