Would you support the introduction of a living wage of $18.40?
Pauline Macphail's no stranger to the workplace.
With 11 years' experience at the Reserve Bank and another three years as a Ministry of Education receptionist Ms Macphail knows how to make an honest wage.
But since being made redundant nearly two years ago, the Te Atatu resident has been left on the shelf.
Hundreds of work applications for banking and administration roles the 53-year-old sends out are usually met with ‘sorry you're not suitable' or no response at all.
After paying rent and bills, Ms Macphail's benefit leaves her with $41 a week for food and necessities.
She says she is lucky enough to have friends and family that help out but she finds her situation embarrassing and she is desperate to get a job.
"I probably apply for five to 10 jobs a week but no one even gets back to you anymore. It can get you down and it hurts your soul," she says.
"I always carry a CV on me. I want a job and I want to work."
Statistics from the Ministry of Social Development show more than 2400 people from West Auckland suburbs were on the unemployment benefit in June 2013, compared to more than 2700 at the same time last year.
Changes to the benefit system in July saw the introduction of the jobseeker support benefit. The new benefit has a strict criteria that indicates beneficiaries must be looking for work in order to receive assistance.
Ms Macphail says she has managed to get casual work through Work and Income, however she is still looking .
Assistant general secretary for First Union Karl Andersen chaired a meeting of workers last month to discuss growing poverty and inequality concerns. He says workers felt the major issues were the issue of the living wage and a loss of employee rights through new employment law.
"There are a lot of people who have jobs but are on the minimum wage. We now have a working poor where once upon a time there was the unemployed poor. What is also typically happening is the state is subsidising through family tax support so the employer gets let off and doesn't pay as much."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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