This week saw New Zealand’s minimum wage increase and a new living wage
The new minimum wage rose from $16.50 to $17.70, in a step towards the
Coalition Government’s commitment of a $20.00 minimum wage by 2021. The
Government estimates up to 209,200 New Zealanders will benefit from this
The living wage rate for 2019 increased from $20.55 to $21.15. The 60 cent
increase is in line with the average wage movement. The new rate is
implemented by Living Wage employers on 1 September 2019.
The living wage represents the amount people need to earn per hour to meet
basic living costs, and reflects the basic expenses of workers and their
families such as food, transportation, energy costs, communication,
education, housing and childcare.
Results of the 2017/18 Stats NZ’s Household Economic Survey showed that a
third of people said their current household income was either not enough
or only just enough to meet their everyday needs. While the TEU welcomes
the increase to the minimum wage, and appreciates the impact this small
boost will have on New Zealand’s most vulnerable workers and families, the
adoption of Living Wage principles by organisations across the country, and
supported by Government, would truly represent a step toward increasing the
wellbeing of workers and families.
TEU National Secretary Sharn Riggs agrees the living wage is about much
more than a simple increase to the hourly rate, it has the potential to
“It’s about giving people that extra money in the pocket to cover those
basic expenses, but it’s also about enabling people to enjoy those things
many of us may take for granted, and to contribute meaningfully in their
communities. It’s about wellbeing and being able to support yourself and
your whanau, perhaps occasionally putting some money aside – even a modest
amount – for the future, the school holidays, or a rainy day”
The TEU continues to call for tertiary education institutions to provide a
living wage for all its staff, and has been negotiating collectively at a
number of institutions on behalf of both directly employed and contracted
workers, particularly lower paid general staff.
The campaigns play a vital role in encouraging employers to adopt the
A second key component is the continuation of the TEU’s national industrial
strategy which includes a national claim for the Living Wage in all TEU
negotiations. This national claim has resulted in the TEU achieving the
previous living wage for directly employed staff in seven collective
Moving forward, the TEU will be looking to increases its national claim in
this year’s negotiations to reflect the current living wage rate for 2019.