One of the privileges of my current work is sharing a building with our Diocesan Social Justice Unit, spearheaded by Jolyon White, Kate Day (pictured front/centre) and Lyndon Rogers. The details of our many stimulating discussions need not be rehearsed here but occasionally their work makes the pages of the newspaper, if not the front page.
On page 3 of this morning's Press is an excellent report of their presentation to the City Council arguing that it ought to pay all its employees at least the 'Living Wage' (worked out here to be NZ$18.40 per hour, compared to our law-required Minimum Wage of NZ$13.75 per hour). The paper carries a beautiful picture of many supporters seated behind Jolyon and Kate as they present.
"Advocating on behalf of the Living Wage movement, Jolyon White, from Anglican Life [Ed.: an alternate name for the Diocese of Christchurch], acknowledged the council was in a difficult financial position but told councillors that it was in hard times that good decisions really mattered.
He challenged the completeness of the report presented to the committee, saying it failed to draw on the experience of hundreds of overseas cities which had instituted a Living Wage.
Their experience showed the cost of introducing the Living Wage was often far less than initially envisaged.
"It is a far too important thing, affecting far too many lives, to be made on incomplete information," White said as he urged the council to commission a full feasibility study rather than accept the report's recommendation.
"We are foolish if we think there are not ongoing costs of paying low wages in Christchurch," she said."Kate Day, also from Anglican Life, said experience in cities that had introduced a Living Wage showed it boosted morale and productivity."
I am all for people being paid fairly but I am wondering whether the argument for the Living Wage being paid to workers not currently on or above that level is not also an argument for the Minimum Wage being set at the Living Wage level?