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Auckland Council staff to get living wage

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/06/2017

Auckland City councillors have voted to give all low-paid council staff a living wage.

The council's Finance and Performance Committee on Thursday voted through a proposal to introduce the $20.20 minimum wage for all employees, 17-3.

Councillors Denise Lee, Linda Cooper and Dick Quax voted against it, while Desley Simpson abstained.

The recommendation will now be voted on by the council's government body later in the day.

During the debate - part of the council's annual budget debate - Mayor Phil Goff told councillors a living wage will "improve the motivation of the people we employ and it will improve the level of attrition we have among staff, who work in our parks and recreation centres and libraries".

"Our employees deserve a wage that they can live and raise their families on," he said.

Mr Goff said the cost to ratepayers will be $1.9 million in the first year, rising to $7m in year three.

"It is something we can afford to do and we should be looking at other efficiencies to cover the cost.

"It is the right thing for us to do and the right thing for Auckland," he said.

Ms Cooper said she needed to weigh up the needs of 1.5 million people, not a small group who would benefit from this decision.

"Ratepayers and renters in Auckland will bear the brunt of this," she said.

"I believe politicians should not be involved in setting people's wages - we [councillors] do not do it unless it is for the council chief executive."

There was loud cheering from the public gallery when the vote passed.

Lobby group Living Wage Aotearoa - which had been campaigning for the change for years - said the decision would transform the lives of staff.

"Councillors recognise that living in Auckland is unaffordable for workers, with costs going sky high," Living Wage Auckland chair Yvette Taylor said.

"[They're] playing a leadership role in our city and making a real difference to their low paid staff and their families."

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