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Sir John says no to living wage

Last updated 05:00 18/12/2013

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The Living Wage policy should be shelved, southern councillors say.

Wellington City Council decided last week to pay all its staff a minimum wage of $18.40 per hour, prompting Auckland councillor Sir John Walker to raise the issue at last week's meeting of the Papakura Local Board.

The living wage is defined as the amount for workers to be able to live while also participating in society, calculated at $18.40 per hour.

Paying a living wage to Auckland Council staff would cost an estimated $3.5 million each year, Sir John says. That doesn't sound like much but it is a lot of money, the Manurewa-Papakura ward councillor says.

The "contentious" issue is "Len Brown's little baby", Sir John says.

"I totally disagree with it. If you're going to earn money, you earn it. You're given it by your productivity."

The change would also be "unfair" to other people who already earn $18.40 per hour.

He believes investment should be aimed at getting people to learn skills and achieve higher qualifications so they can earn more.

Sir John's co-councillor Calum Penrose also opposes introducing a living wage at Auckland Council.

The issue is not one local government should be focusing on as "it is a central government issue", he says.

"Our core services are roads, rates, rubbish, footpaths, berms, parks, reserves . . . they're the stuff that affects people."

Franklin ward councillor Bill Cashmore, who also attended the meeting, says Finance Minister Bill English will be the only winner if the living wage is introduced.

Any gains would likely be offset by increased taxes and the loss of government support and benefits, making the move "pointless", he says.

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- Papakura Courier

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