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WCC becomes NZ’s largest Living Wage employer

Last night, the Wellington City Council celebrated becoming the country’s largest accredited Living Wage employer.

Mayor Justin Lester (right) with WCC workers at last night’s Living Wage celebration

Living Wage Aotearoa today officially confirmed the Council had joined the list of more than 100 accredited Living Wage employers, now that directly employed staff have been moved to the wage and commitments are in place for contractors to also move to it. It is the first council in New Zealand to become an accredited living wage employer.

With 1600 employees, the Council is a bigger Living Wage employer than Auckland lines company Vector and the Bay of Plenty’s Tuarōpaki Trust.

Around 450 Council staff are now on the Living Wage of $20.55 an hour, $4.05 more than the minimum wage set by the Government.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said that the Council had achieved its four-year project goal about 18 months ahead of schedule.

“Research from around the world shows that paying a Living Wage brings benefits to employers, to staff and also to the wider community.

“This was the right thing to do to make Wellington a more inclusive city.

“When I talk with our cleaners and security staff, many of whom work six days a week to make ends meet, they tell me the better wages make a big difference in their and their families’ lives.

The Council joins other local living wage employers such as Pivotal Thames, Rogue & Vagabond, Fix & Fogg and Berl.

Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons, who holds the City Council’s Living Wage portfolio, says feedback from the community had been good.

“It is a measure of our commitment to supporting responsible employment and fair remuneration in the best interests of the city and its residents.

“The idea of the Living Wage is that it provides the worker a wage that will pay for the necessities of life and enables them to participate as an active citizen in the community and give them dignity.

“We want Wellington to be an inclusive city and that means everyone taking part as much as they can. A society where some cannot afford to be part of the community is not the kind of city we want to be.”

In 2013, the Council voted in principle to become a Living Wage council after a request from a community delegation from Living Wage Wellington.

It has been extensively consulted with the community and was most recently included in the 2018 Long-Term Plan. Wellingtonians have supported the City Council at every step in their path to becoming New Zealand’s first Living Wage city.

As part of its 10-Year Plan, the Council has budgeted $3.4 million per year for 10 years to implement the Living Wage over time. This includes costs for Council, CCO and core contractors