New minimum wage and living wage for 2019.

This week saw New Zealand’s minimum wage increase and a new living wage rate 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 this increase.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 transform lives.“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 theLiving Wage.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 agreements. 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.