Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Living Wage - It's about fairness

The Roskill Community Voice campaign is all about winning a fair share for Roskill. Local people deserve the same access to Council services and facilities, we should have our voice heard on important issues, and everyone in our community should have the right to the basics - healthy housing, proper healthcare, and a good start in life.

If we don't aim for those things in our local community then what are we here for?

Pledging our support for the Living Wage last week
The Living Wage is central to all of this. Over 200,000 children in New Zealand live in poverty. A large proportion are actually living in households where parents are working. The problem is alive and well in Roskill - particularly in our Pacific and migrant communities.

The costs of ignoring the problem are huge. We know that poverty increases the incidence of costly diseases, of crime and imprisonment, and of dependence on the welfare system. It all costs real money to 'fix' these problems, and it's not where we should be as a community.

We think that it's time to start at the source of the problem - households simply not having enough money to get by on. It simply makes no sense to allow the problems of low wages to fester, ans then to subsidise it at the back end through public spending. This is where the Living Wage comes in. It's a simple concept that says that people should earn enough to get by on (modestly) and participate in society.

Auckland Council is considering its position, and on the Puketapapa Local Board we have given our support. In the Board's closest vote of the term, both Julie Fairey and Michael Wood supported the Living Wage, and it succeeded on 3-3 split vote with the Chair's casting vote deciding matters. 3/4 C&R members voted against.

The Living Wage is not just about feeling good. It also makes economic sense. People who get paid a fair wage are able to spend more locally, supporting local businesses. Organisations in the UK who pay the Living Wage report big savings as their turn-over rates drop. Here in New Zealand companies like the Warehouse are coming on board for this reason.

It's time for Auckland Council to come to the party. There is a financial cost, but it is relatively modest. It can be paid for out of efficiencies and reductions to increases in executive salaries.

Last week we formally pledged our support to the Living Wage campaign and will actively work to make it happen if re-elected. It's about fairness.