Call us Today 07 578 0969

Tauranga City Council has agreed to look into implementing a living wage policy for its staff.

The council decided to get more information on a living wage policy during Long Term Plan deliberations last week.

Councillor Leanne Brown asked council staff how much it would cost to bring all staff up to a living wage and was informed it would cost about $12,000 a year for the four fulltime staff members who were earning below this level.

Councillor Gail McIntosh said it was incorrect to look at this figure alone as being the full cost of the policy as people who earned near this amount would also want wage increases.

A living wage policy was something the city leaders should lead by example with, said Councillor Rick Curach.

He had been hesitant in the past to support this kind of policy because of the impact on ratepayers.

Councillor Catherine Stewart said most of the submitters who had problems with wages were worried more about how much the “top end” was getting paid.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said these people were “out of touch with the reality of supply and demand” which was what drove market forces.

He highlighted the difficulty of finding building inspectors due to a shortage nationally.

Jaine Lovell-Gadd, general manager of organisational services, said the percentage of people earning more than $100,000 at Tauranga City Council was at the low end compared to the averages in both the public and private sectors nationally.

The councillors resolved to have the City Vision Committee consider the development of a living wage policy at its next policy prioritisation meeting.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council looked into creating a living wage policy about six months ago, but Mayor Ross Paterson (pictured right) said all its staff earned above this amount so it was unnecessary. “Practically all our staff are professionals and have been to varsity or professional learning for their job.”

Public Service Association media adviser Asher Goldman said it was great the council was looking into the policy.

He said 144 Tauranga City Council staff were members of the PSA union and there were a number earning below the living wage.

“They will be looking forward to a significant pay jump and being able to live their lives easier. Everyone should be able to earn enough to ensure they can live a good life.”

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin said earning the living wage was good as long as it did not cost jobs.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce interim chief executive Toni Palmer commended the council for leading the way with a living wage.

What is the Living Wage?

Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand describes it as “the hourly wage a worker needs to pay for the necessities of life and participate as active citizens in the community”.

It reflects the basic expenses of workers and their families such as food, transportation, housing and childcare, and is calculated independently each year by the New Zealand Family Centre Social Policy Unit.

The Living Wage rate is voluntary and for 2015 has been calculated to be $19.25 per hour, 30 per cent more than the minimum wage set by the Government.