30 Aug 2012

Campaign for living wage launched

11:07 pm on 30 August 2012

A campaign has begun to push for the introduction of what is being called a living wage in an effort to lift the pay of those on low incomes.

Proponents of the living wage say the minimum wage at present of $13.50 an hour is not enough for families to live on.

Low income earners say a living wage would give them some dignity, while the campaign organisers say it would help reduce poverty.

The campaign was launched in Wellington on Thursday and aims to get employers to voluntarily sign up to pay a living wage.

It was started by the Service and Food Workers Union, but already has the support of nearly 90 other organisations including churches and unions.

The union's national secretary, John Ryall, says research is needed to work out accurately what a living wage should be, but it will be significantly higher than the minimum wage.

Jude Young, from Horowhenua, is unemployed at the moment but was paid the minimum wage of $13.50 an hour. She says being paid a living wage, rather than the minimum wage, would make a big difference.

Professor Don Matheson, of Massey University's Centre for Public Health Research, says the living wage is a moral issue because those earning modest incomes die earlier than those more well-off.

Labour Party leader David Shearer says his party is likely to adopt it as policy for the next general election.

Mr Shearer says people are working harder than ever, but simply cannot make ends meet on the minimum wage.