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Living Wage Needed Now Says Union
Posted On: Thursday, 19 April 2012

The union representing 23,000 of New Zealand's lowest paid workers has welcomed the political discussion on the need for a living wage.

In a speech today Labour leader David Shearer acknowledged that wages in New Zealand are too low for workers and their families to survive and gave support for the introduction of a living wage.

"Thousands of our members, many of whom care for the most vulnerable members of our society, simply cannot survive on their incomes," said Service and Food Workers Union National Secretary John Ryall.

"A living wage is one that enables all workers to provide the necessities of life and participate in their communities."

John Ryall said discontent in New Zealand about poverty and inequality was growing and momentum was building across the community to address these issues.

"The current minimum wage of $13.50 per hour is not an income that workers can survive on let alone participate in their communities," he said.

"We need a significant shift in the pay rates of workers to make a difference to poverty."

Overseas successful living wage campaigns have resulted in commitments from local and central governments and corporates to pay a living wage.

"We need to act now to end poverty for working people in New Zealand," said John Ryall.

John Ryall said the SFWU was talking with a wide range of community organisations about embarking on a campaign to make a living wage a reality now.

"The campaign will unite communities around the need for a living wage," he said.

"Publicly funded organisations and institutions should take a lead by paying a living wage to their workers, whether those workers are employees or contracted to deliver services, and wealthy corporates should take the lead in the private sector," he said.

"New Zealand used to pride itself on being an egalitarian society. We need return to those principles and end poverty wage rates."

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