Porirua council new living wage employer

By Tema Hemi

More than 120 staff at the Porirua City Council are set to get a pay increase as the council confirms it will pay the living wage of $21.15 as a minimum rate.  Local manawhenua Ngāti Toa have congratulated the council for adopting the policy.

It's a big day for council employees who struggle every day to fulfil their roles at the Porirua City Council, with the council agreeing to a living wage policy for its staff. One council staff member says, "I think its a really excellent idea because the cost of living in New Zealand is really up there." Another said, "It will be a lot easier for staff members' families to purchase food." 

Porirua Mayor Mike Tana says, "We're talking about the people right at the bottom who do the work. They turn up at the same time, sometimes even earlier, or take on more than one job just so they can make ends meet. When your wage comes up to what is considered a wage you could live on things like food, warmth over winter, clothing even, especially if you have children, those are really hard things to have."

The living wage will mean council staff can spend more precious time with their families. Porirua Councilor Ana Coffee says, "It will mean that they can live a life of dignity and they don't have to live from pay-check to pay-check. That you can buy the food you need for your families and send the kids on the school trips without being stressed. I think our employees do an amazing job. I think what we're doing is just appreciating the value that they already bring to our job."

Local iwi Ngāti Toa support the council's living wage policy. Taku Parai of Ngāti Toa says, "It's a good raise in pay that will provide more for the staff of our council."

Wellington City Council last year became the first council in New Zealand to become an accredited living wage employer, and more councils are adopting the policy.

"That's the decision we've made as a council to look after our own people," says Mayor Tana. 

The council says there's a lot more work to do and are hoping to soon include their contract employees, who are the lowest paid.