The growing gap between what families need to earn to live and what the Government sets as the minimum wage, shows the National Government isn’t doing enough to ensure all New Zealanders can get ahead, the Green Party said.
The Government today moved to increase the minimum wage by 50 cents to $15.25 an hour, while the Living Wage Movement announced the actual minimum amount a family needs to earn has increased by 55 cents to $19.80 an hour.
“While the National Government boasts that New Zealand’s economy is growing, it’s made sure that lower income Kiwis get less of the benefit of that than others,” Green Party workplace relations spokesperson Denise Roche said.
“New Zealand’s lowest paid third of workers have only received a one percent increase in their incomes since 2009, but the highest paid third of New Zealanders are now earning eight percent more.*
“Our economy is out of balance when incomes at the top rise so much faster than incomes at the bottom.
“The campaign for a $15-an-hour minimum wage began seven years ago. Seven years later $15.25 an hour is a long way from what families need to get by.
“Average rents in Auckland have reached $500 a week. Someone earning the new $15.25 minimum wage for 40 hours a week will only earn $610 a week before tax.
“Paying people the Living Wage is one of the easiest ways we can raise the standard of living in New Zealand.
“It’s great to see more and more businesses signing up to become Living Wage employers, but the Government needs to show leadership too.
“The Green Party would ensure everyone working in the core public service earns the living wage, and we’ll build that into government contractor wages as contracts come up for renewal over time,” Ms Roche said.
*Income data is from the 2015 Household Incomes Report published by the Ministry of Social Development. Average Auckland rent data is from Trademe.