Nelson living wage campaign wants pledges met

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Living Wage Nelson Tasman has renewed its call for Nelson City Council to become a living wage employer in its submission to the council’s draft annual plan.

Prior to the elections, the Nelson living wage campaign approached sitting councillors and aspiring candidates, asking them to commit to signing a living wage pledge. The pledge asked councillors to support Nelson City Council adopting the living wage in its 2017/2018 plan, by paying a living wage, $20.20, to directly employed staff and workers employed by contractors delivering services to council on a regular and ongoing basis.

As a result of the campaign, many of the candidates signed the pledge and of these a number were elected to the new council including Rachel Reese, Luke Acland, Mel Courtney, Kate Fulton, Matt Lawrey, Brian McGurk and Tim Skinner.

Living Wage Nelson is now asking that the Nelson City Council fully implement what has been agreed to in principle by six councillors and the mayor.

“Councils across New Zealand from Auckland to Christchurch are taking up the challenge and providing leadership in the fight against poverty by working on ways to implement a living wage, it’s an exciting time for hardworking kiwis,” says Living Wage Nelson coordinator Christine Irvine. “The submission gives the mayor and the six councillors the opportunity to show Nelsonians they are true to their word and that their pledged support for the living wage was not just about winning votes, they can show real leadership, they have the numbers to get this initiative over the line.”

Living Wage Nelson’s submission is that the cost of implementing the living wage will be met by a range of measures including from the council’s current total wage budget, which is projected to reach $19.713M in 2018, and through negotiation with the relevant contractors. Any cost to ratepayers will be staged as contracts come up for renegotiation.

The group wants to see council’s implementation of the living wage to all directly-employed staff by July 2017.

The group says that ensuring all staff are paid the living wage is not only a priority it is an essential step towards addressing inequality in our communities. The group will be speaking on the submission and will have a strong presence in the public gallery when the speech takes place on Wednesday, May 10.