Living wage rises to $20.20 an hour

Written By: - Date published: 9:34 am, February 21st, 2017 - 30 comments
Categories: human rights, quality of life, wages - Tags: ,

Congratulations and thanks to all the employers already paying their staff a living wage:

Living wage put at $20.20 an hour

Living wage campaigners are encouraging companies to pay a minimum of $20.20 an hour from July. The rate, more than $4 above the adult minimum wage, is at the level needed to provide families with the necessities, they say.

Krissie, a cleaner for The Fresh Desk company in Lower Hutt, is paid the current living wage of $19.80 an hour. She said it had made a huge difference to her life. …

This piece makes an odd argument against the minimum wage:

Living wage rises, amid call to do away with minimum

Darryl Evans, chief executive of the Mangere Budgeting Service, said staff who were paid at least the living wage would feel more valued, they were likely to work harder and be more committed so there was less staff turnover. He described it as a win-win for businesses and staff.

But he said the minimum wage was a problem. “I strongly believe we need to not have a minimum wage.” … He said it drove employers to pay people that minimum rate, rather than considering what value staff offered the business.

Evans said it was almost impossible for families to survive on that. Many he dealt with had to choose whether they paid rent, petrol, food or other bills because they could not pay for everything.

“We need to drop the minimum wage and pay people what they are worth,” he said. …

I admire Mr Evans’ optimism, but I do not share it. Without a legal minimum wage most employers would pay less, not more. If good employers want to pay more than the minimum right now there is nothing stopping them…

30 comments on “Living wage rises to $20.20 an hour”

  1. saveNZ 1

    Personally would like the debate to start about UBI…

    • Peter Bradley 1.1

      Spot on. Constantly pushing up the living wage as though businesses in the real world are going to be able to keep up is just a game of fantasy.
      There has to be permanent and feasible wealth redistribution built into our economy – it’s not going to happen via wages ever – UBI is the only answer.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 1.1.1

        Wages and UBI can both be part of improving things I feel.

        Equality can be improved via wages – it has been in the past in NZ, and is in Japan and Germany currently, as examples.

      • millsy 1.1.2

        Seems to be OK for landlords to be endlessly be pushing up rents.

        • Richard McGrath

          They can only do that because the National Socialist government make it difficult and expensive to build new housing.

    • millsy 1.2

      I prefer the good old social wage myself. Free healthcare, education, state housing, access to arts and culture, subsidised utilities, etc.

  2. The Fairy Godmother 2

    Yes the statement about the minimum wage seems odd. I do see where he is coming from though. In early childhood we have a whole lot of minimum standards. One of the problems as a speaker out from Reggio Emillia from REANZ so succinctly put it is that “the minimum standard becomes aspirational”. We don’t strive to be the best we can be we strive to be the worst we can get away with. However I wouldn’t want to get rid of minimum standards for childcare or wages until we turn our whole society around from a focus on profit making to one of being the best we can be for everyone – for our employees and for our children.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 2.1

      I liked Nick Hanauer’s comment on the minimum wage:

      “But here’s the thing. When those who set bad examples, like the owners of Wal-Mart or McDonald’s, pay their workers close to the minimum wage, what they’re really saying is that they’d pay even less if it weren’t illegal. “

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    Mr. Evans has just explained why the minimum wage needs to go up.

    What are the odds that he’s one of those Tories who “gives generously to charity”.

    Perhaps he should be sent on a fact-finding tour of countries with no minimum wage to help him re-connect with reality.

  4. Molly 4

    The reasoning is flawed. Current market competition will reward those employers or businesses that cut expenses by paying less wages than a living wage (or to put it in more realistic terms – a “non-livable” wage).

    Those businesses and business owners will thrive, on the expectation they can continue to pay those non-livable wages, and the other businesses will struggle to compete.

    The same issue comes to value. Not all employers are able to ascertain value to business in the same way. Some employees are “valuable” primarily because they can be relied upon to do their job (and more) without asking for more pay.

    The ability to ask for the level of pay that reflects your value to a business is not universal, which results in a lot of variance in renumeration sometimes even within the same organisation.

    In essence, the living wage should be the lowest we are prepared to accept that people are paid for full-time employment, and the minimum wage only gets abolished when the living wage replaces that in legislation and policy.

    • greywarshark 4.1

      Well said Molly and with light and not all the heat that found its way into my comment.
      (Which I still stand by though.)

  5. dialey 5

    Oh goodie, my recently negotiated PSA pay rate for administrators is now about the same as the living wage.

  6. greywarshark 6

    The budgeting advisor either is completely gullible or believes in fairies or both.
    Without a minimum wage employers would pay less. If anyone is truly interested in this business of decent wages he/she should be fully conversant with the whole picture, not making naive, ignorant statements.

    Sure the minimum wage should be higher, but the reason that it is paid is because its law. If employers were really nice people they would try to pay more, they might set reasonable targets per month and give staff bonuses if met. But you don’t take away a legal sure thing in favour of good feelings and fair dealings.

    The point about set wages is that everyone has to pay them and no scumbags can get away for ever not paying them and therefore being able to undercut everybody’s prices with the portion of their poor employees’ wages that they withhold from them. That’s not good for business, and not good for employees so stuff that up your earhole budget advisor, that’s good advice to you.

  7. In Vino 7

    We need a total change of perspective. The minimum wage is utterly demeaning, and destroys the recipient’s sense of self-worth. I despise anyone who accepts the idea of working long hours for less than $20 an hour – they should know that they as people are worth more than that. And I doubly despise the profit-gouging, greed-ridden Capitalists who preach market forces and economic efficiency to justify their exploitation of these people. (They are people, not a labour commodity, and the Capitalists make me wish for the existence of a vengeful God.)

    The acceptance of huge salaries for top CEOs and sub-living-level wages for the working poor is a pustulant sore on the face of our society which far too many of us are willing to tolerate.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      The acceptance of huge salaries for top CEOs and sub-living-level wages for the working poor is a pustulant sore on the face of our society which far too many of us are willing to tolerate.


    • Greg 7.2

      1000 percent. Vino

  8. greg 8

    living wage should be extended to all Auckland council contracts Auckland is a high cost city to live in or is staff who are forced work on contracts second class workers to be treated like shit.

    • In Vino 8.1

      ‘treated like shit’

      Yep.. I said utterly demeaning – same thing. I hold in contempt those profit-gougers who try to justify low wages.

  9. NZJester 9

    The theory for dropping the minimum wage looks good until it hits the one big real world problem that makes the theory fall over (Greedy People). The theory of trickle down economics falls over due to the same problem (Greedy people just bank the tax cuts and not reinvest it in job creation). Even with a minimum wage, there are still a small number of businesses owners out there trying to find ways around it to underpay their employees. Making employees buy things that are needed to do their job themselves that should be supplied, supplying accommodation at live-on sites at an inflated rate, unpaid overtime kept off the books, and making employees pay for items stolen during their shifts are just some of the measures some greedy people use to underpay employees.

    • Richard McGrath 9.1

      The old straw man makes a comeback – you realise ‘trickle-down’ is an invention of Keynesians, don’t you?

  10. Dave Jennings 10

    If the minimum wage was done away with, it may give the unscrupulous employer, ,and there are plenty of them a field day to pay an even lower rate of servitude pay.
    So I think it would be wise to keep the current minimum wage in place ;but it needs to reflect the current cost of living. Which is sky high.
    The National Government would dearly love to help their business mates out, by having a free for all in the wages arena. only greater poverty will ensue.
    Dave Jennings,

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