web analytics

Key Living Wage: “A matter for them”

Written By: - Date published: 5:49 pm, February 11th, 2013 - 26 comments
Categories: john key, wages - Tags:

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.

26 comments on “Key Living Wage: “A matter for them” ”

  1. vto 1

    .
    Key paints his own picture of himself.

    hollow

    shallow

    empty

    • Tiresias 1.1

      He’s just being true to right-wing philosophy. Those who can, will, and the Devil take the hindmost.

      He’s only doing what 47.31% of New Zealand voters plus the Maori Party enabled him to do.

  2. indiana 2

    Ben, do you agree that a living wage is very dependent on an individuals circumstances?

    • vto 2.1

      indiana, do you agree that top management wages are very dependent on an individuals circumstances?

    • Te Reo Putake 2.2

      “Ben, do you agree that a living wage is very dependent on an individuals circumstances?”

      No. The basics are pretty much the same for all of us. We all pay international market rates for food, even though its produced here. Our housing is overpriced wherever we live. We all pay rates and taxes at similar levels (except the deserving rich, of course). Petrol, electricity, comms; all the same wherever in NZ you are to within a decimal point or two.

      • bad12 2.2.1

        Pay taxes at similar levels, planet te reo must be interesting, based upon actual income the poorer you are the more you pay in tax,

        Beneficiaries pay at least 30% of their income as tax, depending upon what they buy with their meager dollop of money this could be as much as 40% in taxation,

        Beneficiary dependent children wish to thank Labour for including them in the working for families tax credit scheme,(aw that’s right Labour ignored the poorest kids in NZ in favor of upper middle class kids so no thanks have been earned by Labour on that score either)…

    • Ben Clark 2.3

      Not very dependent, slightly (as TRP says). Except for children – they massively change costs. Which provides a good reason for something like Working for Families to even that out for those going through that expensive part of the life-cycle.

      But I guess that is part of the movement of the Living Wage being a non-compulsory wage. It is a moral wage that will be enough for people to have children, a modest place to live, and no worries about paying for power or food week to week. The Minimum Wage is a backstop to prevent employers really taking the mickey.

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 3

    For anyone else who couldn’t follow that link http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/20130211

  4. tsmithfield 4

    If you are on a low wage with a couple of kids, the effect of WFF is that you probably are already earning a living wage.

    • felixviper 4.1

      You catch on quick.

      Now tell me again why it’s the state’s (i.e. yours and mine) responsibility to pay wages on behalf of the private sector?

      • tsmithfield 4.1.1

        So, is your position that the “living wage” should replace WFF?

        • felixviper 4.1.1.1

          My position is that the lowest wages should be enough to live a decent simple life on.

          And that if that were the case, WfF would never have been needed.

          And further to that, the presence of WfF has allowed those low wage levels to stagnate with employers recognising it as a subsidy to continue paying low wages.

          • The Chairman 4.1.1.1.1

            Indeed.

          • indiana 4.1.1.1.2

            “the presence of WfF has allowed those low wage levels to stagnate”

            Is that an unintended consequence of Labour policy making?

            • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1.2.1

              I don’t believe so. Labour knew that wages were no longer covering the costs of living and so put in place subsidies for private business so that wages could be kept low.

            • felixviper 4.1.1.1.2.2

              “Is that an unintended consequence of Labour policy making?”

              Ultimately, yes.

              However while Labour were in office they continued to increase the min wage anyway, whereas National hasn’t really.

              • indiana

                Why should they have? If WFF helped stagnate employer driven wage increases then sadly that unintended consequence of the policy also stagnates state welfare increases and minimum wage increases by any future government.

                But at least Labour can look like they care.

                • RedLogix

                  Once upon a time employers routinely paid married men more than single men. This was because in the context of the time married men most likely had higher costs than single men. We also had a Universal Child Benefit that was actually of real value to families. These were blunt but appropriate tools for the time.

                  The idea that families are expensive to raise AND that society owed some obligation to assist in that process is not a new one. In fact it’s been around for a very long time in one form or another…. long before capitalism.

                  The advent of workplace equality has necessitated a change in the form this assistance has taken. Whether WFF was the best response is still an open topic for debate. Personally I’ve long advocated that a Universal Basic Income would be a better approach.

                  But arguing over whether this family assistance should be paid directly by employers or indirectly via the tax system is a pretty sterile debate.

  5. Brian 5

    Is it me or is it just strange to find the words Key and Leadership in the same sentence?

  6. RedLogix 6

    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.

    But of course the Local Government Reform Bill 2012 has tidily removed this option from New Zealand Local Authorities:

    1. Refocus the purpose of local government
    The broad purpose of the Local Government Act 2002 covering social, economic, cultural, environment well-being is unrealistic. It creates false expectations about what councils can achieve and confusion over the proper roles with respect to central government and private sector.

    The problem is illustrated by councils setting targets for NCEA pass rates, greenhouse gas emission reductions and reduced child abuse in their communities. These are very real and important issues but are not the responsibility of councils.

    New Zealanders would be better served by government providing a clearer purpose statement on the role of councils. We need to be cautious of the narrow prescriptive approach of the 1974 Act that had councils needing special parliamentary authority to be allowed to provide an illuminated town clock. A balance is needed that provides greater clarity of councils’ role but which recognises the diverse needs of local communities throughout New Zealand.

    This Government supports the retention of local government’s purpose to enable democratic local decision making and the accountability of councils to their local communities. The provisions to be changed throughout the Act are references to the broad role around social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being. This will be replaced by councils’ role being defined as the provision of ‘good quality local infrastructure, public services and regulatory functions at the least possible cost to households and business’.

    The important words in the new purpose statement are ‘local’ to differentiate from services better provided by central government and ‘public’ to clarify that councils should not try to replace services provided by the private sector. The proviso requiring least cost is to emphasize the need for efficiency. The definitions will make it plain that ‘least possible cost’ means costs now and into the future, to ensure decision makers do not take a narrow, short term view of cost effectiveness.

    1. The Local Government Act 2002 will be amended to replace references to the ‘social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities’ (the four well beings) with a new purpose for councils of ‘providing good quality local infrastructure, public services and regulatory functions at the least possible cost to households and business.’

    http://www.dia.govt.nz/Policy-Advice-Areas—Local-Government-Policy—Better-Local-Government-brochure

    Given of course that virtually everything Local Govt does could be done by the private sector this Bill has become a charter for the complete dismantling of Local Govt in this country. Not next week … but within the next decade.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Unless we get a reasonable government in place that repeals it. If we don’t then the sell off of NZ to the highest bidders and the conversion of most NZers into serfs will continue.

  7. swan 7

    Some great posts on tvhe and offsetting behaviour on this. I think we should be very carefull about the (un)intended consequences of this policy.

    http://www.tvhe.co.nz/2013/02/12/a-19hr-living-wage-wtf/

    http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.co.nz/2013/02/living-wages-and-raising-rivals-costs.html

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Here is a question for you swan.

      If your job is protected by the national economy, ie you are a professional or similar whose ‘market rates’ are not especially subject to international competition then you are doing quite alright thank you. I’d estimate this class of people might be the top 20% of earners at most.

      But most other people in New Zealand have jobs that could be done by somebody else in the world for much less. That’s the other 80%. If we were to take your position and argue that if a job could be done by someone else for less, then it should be done for less, then obviously this 80% of New Zealanders will see their incomes stagnate or fall even further.

      While at the same time the top 20% or so will continue to accumulate more wealth and privilege to themselves, increasing even further the gross levels of inequality in this country.

      My question then is, would you argue that wage competition should apply only to the lowest and least empowered in the market … or should it apply to everyone?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • New Public Housing Plan announced
    The Government has released its Public Housing Plan 2021-2024 which outlines the intention of where 8,000 additional public and transitional housing places announced in Budget 2020, will go. “The Government is committed to continuing its public house build programme at pace and scale. The extra 8,000 homes – 6000 public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • Prime Minister congratulates President Joe Biden on his inauguration
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated President Joe Biden on his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States of America. “I look forward to building a close relationship with President Biden and working with him on issues that matter to both our countries,” Jacinda Ardern said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Better care for babies with tongue-tie
    Babies born with tongue-tie will be assessed and treated consistently under new guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Around 5% to 10% of babies are born with a tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, in New Zealand each year. At least half can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison over
    The prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison is over, with all remaining prisoners now safely and securely detained, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says. The majority of those involved in the event are members of the Mongols and Comancheros. Five of the men are deportees from Australia, with three subject to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test for travellers from the UK and the US from 15 January
    Travellers from the United Kingdom or the United States bound for New Zealand will be required to get a negative test result for COVID-19 before departing, and work is underway to extend the requirement to other long haul flights to New Zealand, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. “The new PCR test requirement, foreshadowed last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago