Coalition plan to push living wage campaign

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 17/01/2014

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A coalition is being formed to campaign for the living wage in Manawatu, with a public meeting to be held in Palmerston North later this month.

Unions Manawatu convener John Shennan said he was hoping for a range of organisations to come on board and called for the likes of social service providers and church groups to join the trade unions already involved.

A public meeting will be held on January 29 at the Diocesan Centre on Amesbury St. It will include an address from national co-ordinator of the living wage campaign, Annie Newman.

"The purpose is to try to establish a coalition in the Manawatu who can then publicly push for and address the issues of a living wage and issues tied up with that such as poverty in the community and the working poor."

Mr Shennan said the focus of the living wage campaign had been on Auckland and Wellington last year, but in 2014 it was moving into the provinces. He was not aware of any companies that had implemented a living wage policy in Manawatu but said it was part of negotiations clerical workers were having with the MidCentral District Health Board and workers in other sectors had sought the living wage as part of national negotiations.

Mr Shennan said he had been disappointed by the way the possibility of a living wage for Palmerston North City Council staff had been "disparaged" by mayor Jono Naylor and chief executive Paddy Clifford.

Cr Tangi Utikere will convene the meeting later this month. Mr Shennan said he was aware of other city councillors who wanted to know more about the issues around living wages.

Much of the focus for living wage campaigns had been on councils such as Auckland and Wellington City, Mr Shennan said. While he understood why that had been the case, councils were far from the worst employers when it came to wages.

Mr Shennan said that in New Zealand the campaign was seen as being driven by trade unions. Its origins in America, though, had been community and church groups, he said, and it was those types of groups he wanted involved.

He encouraged any groups interested in being part of the coalition to contact him on john.shennan@psa.org.nz.

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- Manawatu Standard

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