This week saw New Zealand’s minimum wage increase and a new living wagerate announced.The new minimum wage rose from $16.50 to $17.70, in a step towards theCoalition Government’s commitment of a $20.00 minimum wage by 2021. TheGovernment estimates up to 209,200 New Zealanders will benefit from thisincrease.The living wage rate for 2019 increased from $20.55 to $21.15. The 60 centincrease is in line with the average wage movement. The new rate isimplemented by Living Wage employers on 1 September 2019.The living wage represents the amount people need to earn per hour to meetbasic living costs, and reflects the basic expenses of workers and theirfamilies such as food, transportation, energy costs, communication,education, housing and childcare.Results of the 2017/18 Stats NZ’s Household Economic Survey showed that athird of people said their current household income was either not enoughor only just enough to meet their everyday needs. While the TEU welcomesthe increase to the minimum wage, and appreciates the impact this smallboost will have on New Zealand’s most vulnerable workers and families, theadoption of Living Wage principles by organisations across the country, andsupported by Government, would truly represent a step toward increasing thewellbeing of workers and families.TEU National Secretary Sharn Riggs agrees the living wage is about muchmore than a simple increase to the hourly rate, it has the potential totransform lives.“It’s about giving people that extra money in the pocket to cover thosebasic expenses, but it’s also about enabling people to enjoy those thingsmany of us may take for granted, and to contribute meaningfully in theircommunities. It’s about wellbeing and being able to support yourself andyour whanau, perhaps occasionally putting some money aside - even a modestamount - for the future, the school holidays, or a rainy day”The TEU continues to call for tertiary education institutions to provide aliving wage for all its staff, and has been negotiating collectively at anumber of institutions on behalf of both directly employed and contractedworkers, particularly lower paid general staff.The campaigns play a vital role in encouraging employers to adopt theLiving Wage.A second key component is the continuation of the TEU’s national industrialstrategy which includes a national claim for the Living Wage in all TEUnegotiations. This national claim has resulted in the TEU achieving theprevious living wage for directly employed staff in seven collectiveagreements.Moving forward, the TEU will be looking to increases its national claim inthis year’s negotiations to reflect the current living wage rate for 2019.