Porirua City Council votes to give employees the living wage

Councillor 'Ana Coffey [left] made the recommendation and Deputy Mayor Izzy Ford seconded it.
Councillor 'Ana Coffey [left] made the recommendation and Deputy Mayor Izzy Ford seconded it.

The salaries of 120 people will be boosted following Porirua City Council's adoption of the living wage.

Workers directly employed by the council will receive at least $21.15 an hour from next February, following a recommendation moved by Councillor 'Ana Coffey on Thursday.

"It's about being good employers and making sure our employees make enough to live a life of dignity," she said.

Corinna School in Waitangirua, Porirua is the first in New Zealand to be fully accredited as a living wage primary school. Principal Michele Whiting says "we try to create an atmosphere of whanau here. That's the mutually respectful relationships around who we are and what we do."

"It's about looking after people and doing the decent thing."

* New Zealand's first living wage primary school
* What does the living wage mean for workers and employers?
* All public service employees to earn at least living wage

The move makes Porirua the fifth city council to adopt the wage, defined by supporters as "the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life". Currently New Zealand's minimum adult wage is $17.70.

The recommendation was seconded by Deputy Mayor Izzy Ford who said consultation showed the wage was supported by the majority of the community.

"If we want to have the kind of equitable, sustainable society we all want to live in then I think it's critical that our lower-paid working people be paid enough to make a proper living."

Living Wage Porirua spokesman Andrew Chick said it was "an exciting result" for employees.

"It just makes the difference about having a decent life. When you're living below the living wage its always a battle.

"Some of these employees may not be able to afford the services the council they work for provides."

Thousands of people had previously submitted on the issue and it was an example of how community campaigning made a difference, he said.

"When people think about priorities this is the sort of thing they want: the library assistants, the lifeguards, everyone paid fairly.

Those who voted for the recommendation were 'Ana Coffey, Izzy Ford, Mike Tana, John Burke, Faafoi Seiuli, Anita Baker, Mike Duncan and Kylie Wihapi. Those against were Ross Leggett, Dale Williams and Beverley Wakem.

Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Tauranga councils also pay the living wage.