Fighting for the living wage

UNDER PRESSURE: Ashburton Anglican Church vicar Indrea Alexander says thre is growing demand from the working poor for services such as foodbanks.
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If a Living Wage Movement takes off following a public meeting in Ashburton next week, organisers will aim to reduce poverty in the community.

When Ashburton Anglican Church vicar Indrea Alexander lived in South Canterbury she was part of the Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ.

Now Alexander is facilitating a public meeting in Ashburton on Wednesday to gauge interest in establishing a living wage movement group in the Ashburton District.

The public meeting is for employers, employees and those interested in social justice.

On April 1, the minimum wage rose to $22.70 a hour, while the living wage rose to $26 an hour on September 1.

The living wage is said to enable people to afford internet access, take part in hobbies or community activities, have their children attend school camps and out-of-school activities.

‘‘The working poor are now seemingly a permanent group in the New Zealand workforce. The movement works to reduce poverty by advocating for employers to pay at least the living wage to their staff,’’ Alexander said.

She said there was a growing number of workers in Ashburton needing assistance from food banks and other support services.

‘‘The movement, if it establishes itself in Mid Canterbury, would seek to work with the the local council and other public agencies to ensure they have adopted the living wage and ask them to consider becoming accredited for the the wellbeing of regular contract staff.

‘‘We will also seek to identify and celebrate private employers currently paying all staff at least the living wage. We will encourage them to become accredited as well.’’

The movement began in the United States and is not aligned to any political parties or single donor funding.

Over 300 business in New Zealand have become accredited including Special Olympics New Zealand, the Anglican Church and Anglican Care, AMP, Parliamentary Services, some political parties, a variety of unions, Genesis Energy and banks including ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Heartland, Rabo, Kiwibank with Westpac becoming the first bank in New Zealand to receive accreditation.

The first early childhood care business to became an accredited living wage employer was Jo Luxton’s Hinds Early Learning Centre.

In April, Environment Canterbury became the first regional council in New Zealand to become an accredited living wage employer.

  • The Living Wage Movement public meeting is November 15, from 5.30pm to 6.30pm at St Stephen’s Hall, 64 Park St, Ashburton.