Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Crone: Living wage policy already in place for Auckland Council staff

Auckland Mayoral candidate Vic Crone during her campaign launch held at Unitec ion Wednesday. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Dean Purcell
Auckland Mayoral candidate Vic Crone during her campaign launch held at Unitec ion Wednesday. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Dean Purcell

Auckland mayoral candidate Vic Crone claims there already is a living wage policy for council staff, despite councillors voting against it three years ago.

She said a policy of prioritising pay increases for lower wage council staff has been in place through a "social equity" principle, which was passed by council in 2014.

Crone said it is the "same thing" as a living wage policy.

Increases should be related to performance that delivers benefits to Aucklanders, or on a case by case basis where someone is paid well under market value
Vic Crone

"Apart from the complete lack of transparency from council, it raises questions about how much Phil Goff understands what's really going on in council."

Labour MP Goff proposed introducing a living wage for Auckland Council staff on Thursday, which would be funded by cutting waste.

Crone, who did not attend a Living Wage Forum for mayoral candidates at St Matthew in the City last night, said she was opposed to living wage and social equity policies within Auckland Council.

"Increases should be related to performance that delivers benefits to Aucklanders, or on a case by case basis where someone is paid well under market value."

Goff said he was aware of the social equity policy, saying since it was introduced the net effect of this "slow track" was a 19c-an-hour pay increase and the number of council staff who had fallen below the wage had increased from 1623 to 1776.

"I'm not looking at a slow track, but taking action as soon as we start making efficiency savings."

Goff said Crone was promising to make $500 million in efficiency savings.

"Why wouldn't you take a small percentage of that and say we can afford to give all employees a basic, decent living wage," Goff said.

In December 2013, councillors effectively voted down a proposal by Mayor Len Brown for a living wage by asking officers to prepared a remuneration policy, including the wider implications on the organisation.

In July 2014, the remuneration policy was approved by the governing body with a provision for "fair and reasonable" increases a priority at the lower end of the pay scale.​

Crone said in the 2015 pay review, all staff paid less than $37,500 were given a 1 per cent standard council increase and a 3 per cent social equity pay increase. In the 2016 pay review, staff below $40,000 were given a 1.4 per cent council increase and 1.5 per cent social equity pay increase.

She said the living wage was $41,186 in February 2016.

A council spokeswoman said at the time the governing body considered, but did not approve, the introduction of the living wage (then $18.40 an hour), the cost of introducing it was estimated at an additional $2.5 million per year.

She said the council's fiscal envelope for staff costs is approved by the governing body, as part of the council's annual budget.

Within this there is a salary inflator which is debated as part of the overall budget for the council's expenditure. The council's executive leadership team and the PSA work together to decide how the budget will be distributed amongst staff, the spokeswoman said.

"As part of our commitment to social equity, staff on the lowest salary bands also received slightly higher annual pay increases," she said.

- NZ Herald

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