Barely surviving on minimum wage

23 May

Emma Endemann

$13.50 an hour is $385 a week after tax.

That’s what single mum Emma Endemann earns after tax each week as a cleaner on the minimum wage, to support her three schoolchildren.

It’s not enough to make ends meet so Emma’s son Peniata goes to work every day after school to bring home more money for school uniforms, clothing and extras.

As a comparison, in Australia the minimum wage is $15.51 Australian dollars – or more than NZ$20. Here it’s $13.50.

So tomorrow the service and food workers union launches a campaign for all New Zealanders to be paid a “living wage” rather than a minimum wage. The union says a living wage should allow workers to earn a decent wage to avoid the stress of poverty.

Over the next three nights Campbell Live will meet three families surviving on the minimum wage.

Campbell Live Special report – Video:

Campaign launched for ‘living wage’ (NZH 23/5/12)

Lopaini Kaufasi, with four of her six children, from left, Akineti, Iaeli, Peniaga and Davanny. Mrs Kaufasi and her husband Leo struggle to feed their family on their combined low wages. Photo / Sarah Ivey

A campaign has been launched for a “living wage” in New Zealand, inspired by policies in United States cities and London.

The Living Wage Aotearoa NZ campaign is drawing support from unions, churches, Pacific, women’s and community groups.

Organiser Annie Newman of the Service and Food Workers Union said it was inspired by “living wage” policies governing council contracts in more than 140 US cities and in London, where the rate of £8.30 ($17.35) an hour is 37 per cent above the £6.08 ($12.71) legal minimum wage.

Read more:

Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand Campaign launch

Monday, 21 May 2012, 12:03 pm
Press Release: The Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota

21 May 2012

Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand Campaign launch

On Wednesday 23 May, a new campaign to fight poverty and inequality will be launched in Auckland. The launch will mark the beginning of a new community movement, with a goal to end poverty wages and achieve a living wage for all workers.

The launch comes after the Service and Food Workers Union initiated talks with community organisations, churches and other unions. Over 50 organisations have now endorsed a call for a living wage in New Zealand.

Launch speakers include Darryl Evans (Otara Budgeting and Family Support Services), Uesefili Unasa, (Maclaurin Chaplain at Auckland University and Pacific Peoples Advisory Board to Auckland City Council) and CTU president Helen Kelly. Reverend Mua Strickson Pua will MC.

A living wage is defined as a wage which allows workers and their families to not only survive but to participate in society.

“We know that the living wage well exceeds the minimum wage of $13.50. The SFWU represents many workers living on or just above the minimum wage. Many workers on these incomes work 60-70 hours a week to make ends meet,” said SFWU National Secretary John Ryall. “The living wage must enable workers to live a decent life and to avoid the chronic stress of poverty.”

There have been successful living wage campaigns in many other countries, including UK, the US and Canada. In London the living wage is 30% above the minimum wage. London living wage employers include Greater London Council and London Olympics 2012.

Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand launch
12 – 2pm Wednesday 23 May
St Stephen’s church hall, 65 Jervois Road, Ponsonby, Auckland


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