Editorial: Living wage only part of solution

WARWICK RASMUSSEN DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 13/02/2013

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OPINION: This week there was a push and promotion for a living wage to be introduced.

While there is a minimum working wage - set at $13.50 an hour for adults - that is often deemed as not enough to live off, after costs such as food, accommodation and electricity are removed.

A living wage, in place in cities such as London, recognises that the minimum is not enough and for workers to survive their employers need to offer them payment more than is legally required.

In New Zealand it costs more to live in the bigger places. Rent and house prices, transport; the costs all add up.

They are offset to some degree by higher wages, but not everyone is so lucky.

The living wage campaign is an admirable cause, but it does fail to recognise a major part in getting by in life for the very people they are looking at.

In a perfect world everyone would be paid what they were worth, or deserved. But they're not.

More focus needs to be put on the existing costs people pay, rather than what they are paid.

Unless you're a big company cutting a deal, electricity and gas costs are higher than ever, charged in a way that punishes people for using a necessity.

Government-owned power companies are pulling obscene profits, while people shiver and freeze their way through winter in lounges around the country. That's not right.

How about our rental house situation? Where's the real push to bring them up to speed and transform them from cold and damp to warm and dry?

The positive spinoffs of sorting the living conditions are almost immeasurable. The health benefits alone are huge.

If those two issues alone are tackled it automatically takes the pressure off what is earned. Instead of raising the minimum and living wage bar time and time again, it's time some of the rationales behind some of those unavoidable costs are investigated.

Of course, what people earn is important, but it is only a piece of the overall puzzle.

ONE MORE THING

Pope Benedict XVI's decision to step down from the role he has held since 2005 came right out of the blue. The 85-year-old announced that he was neither physically nor mentally able to do the position justice, and in doing so was the first pope in 600 years to step down. While out of the ordinary, his decision must be respected as Catholics worldwide reflect on his legacy and look to who will fill the void he has created.

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- Manawatu Standard

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