A Bay of Plenty packhouse has revealed today it will pay a living wage to fulltime permanent staff - affecting more than 30 employees.
Apata, a kiwifruit and avocado post harvest company, announced its decision this morning.
Apata's managing director, Stuart Weston, said the decision to embrace the living wage concept is part of a wider wellbeing programme which the company initiated last year.
"One of our company values is that we are a family and we look after each other. So we challenged ourselves and decided we weren't really acting out that value as well as we could.
"Primary industries are historically not well paid so we've decided to embrace the living wage and make sure all of our full time permanent staff are being looked after."
The change would lift pay rates for 32 staff to at least $20.85/hr (as of 1 April 2019). The impact would vary between individuals but some would receive up to $5000 more per year before tax.
Apata's other wellness initiatives included organising more social activities, providing a confidential counselling service for staff, and running regular courses on topics such as mental and physical health, managing stress, budgeting and positive communication, along with being paid to volunteer their time in the community.
"Mike King – who just won New Zealander of the Year – came and visited us last year. We had 95 percent of our full time staff turn up to that event and it was so powerful. It really resonated with all of us how important mental health is and gave us the impetus to make some of these changes," Weston said.
Apata employed 150 fulltime staff and that workforce swelled to more than 1000 people during the kiwifruit harvest each year.
Weston said seasonal workers rates vary depending on the role they are employed in but will start at the minimum wage rate for the time being (which will rise to $17.70/hr on 1 April 2019). But Apata is keen to improve their pay and conditions down the track.
"We can see the direction the Government is heading and their intent to move the minimum wage up to $20/hour by 2020."