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Living Wage for Porirua City Council workers

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A recommendation by City Direction Committe Chair 'Ana Coffey to introduce the Living Wage for Council employees, was supported by the committee.

The recommendation was that the Council:

- approve an increase to its minimum hourly wage rate to $21.15 effective from 28 February 2020 and allocate additional funding of $107,000 in the 2019/20 year and $320,000 annually thereafter

- Increase its minimum hourly wage rates annually on 1 July each year thereafter to match the prevailing living wage rate as part of its annual salary review process.

It is likely that this will be confirmed by the Council on 26 June, and will increase the pay of 120 Council workers from February next year.

"We need to take a principled approach to our decision making," Cr Coffey said. "The increasing financial pressures on the local government sector are not going to change. But it can’t be at the expense of our employees who deserve to earn a wage that allows them to live with dignity.

"As elected members our decisions need to reflect the desires and needs of our community. We’ve consulted on the living wage in the past and feedback has been split. But there’s been strong messages coming through that people want those who are struggling in our community to have enough to live on and to be able to participate in society.

"I’d like to thank the living wage movement for their work. This is a journey, and there’s more work to do, but it’s important our Council shows leadership for our lowest paid staff," Cr Coffey said.

Deputy Mayor Izzy Ford, who seconded the recommendation, said the previous council committed $200k to the living wage and she continues to support it.

"This is about affordability versus equity for our low-paid members of staff and is focussed on weaving an environment for a better future for everyone. In our consultation, 59% of submissions were in favour of paying our people a living wage and for me that’s enough to support this. I also note we need to live within our fiscal envelope and we can do this while also looking after our lower paid workers," Cr Ford said.

Mayor Mike Tana also supported the recommendation.

"This has been considered by the Council for six years and I recognise the efforts of our community to put information before us to help us make the right decisions. We’ve had 60 leaders and community groups in our city, including Ngāti Toa, asking for this. I support it on the basis that we are listening to our people. Now we need to find a way to balance this decision with our responsibility to be fiscally prudent. We have worked hard to get a fair outcome. I’m particularly pleased to have reached this point in this term."

The decision will not impact next year’s rates increase which remains unchanged from the 4.98% average increase agreed in the 2018-38 Long-term Plan.

"While no work has been undertaken as to how this could be managed within the current budget, a proposed start of February 2020 will have a minimal impact on the budget," said General Manager Corporate Services/Chief Financial Officer Roy Baker.

"A full year of $325k per annum will have an impact on our ability to manage "the ups and downs" to still deliver a 4.98% rate increase in 2020/21 onwards. How this will be managed in the future will be subject to discussions with the Council as the 2020/21 Annual Plan budget is being developed."

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