Tuesday, 21st February, 2017

All businesses, including councils hire on merit, so paying a higher rate without asking for better performance is not sound business practice. Private sector businesses would soon go out of business, but councils take the easy option – they simply pass the cost on to rate payers.

“That’s why the ‘living wage’ is not good business, or good for business. Most businesses recognise this.

“It is of concern, however, that Auckland Council and others are leading the charge on this flawed concept – they don’t face up to ‘real business’ price-cost pressures like other businesses do, and instead are expedient in exploiting the revenue they receive from ratepayers,” said Mr Barnett.

The $10,000 difference between the just under $32,000/year minimum wage and new $42,000/year living wage is a significant extra ‘social’ cost to make up.

Of course, the Auckland Chamber recognises that low wages can make it difficult for workers and their families. But Government welfare policies exist to address this, including the setting of a ‘minimum’ wage to prevent unscrupulous employers paying too little.

Councils adopting a ‘living wage’ approach to lifting living standards are playing populist politics without regard to the evidence of its distorting impacts on the wider economy.

“They would be far more responsible if they focused on encouraging low paid staff to improve their skills and ensure they receive their full government welfare entitlements. Doing that would demonstrate real leadership,” concluded Mr Barnett.

For more information contact Michael Barnett, mobile: 0275 631 150.
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce.