New work-life satisfaction survey shows New Zealand's standard of living has slipped

As if the effects of COVID-19 weren't bad enough last year, it seems that 2020 also meant many people worked more and earned less.

A work-life satisfaction survey released today by the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) shows the standard of living has slipped.

South Auckland cleaner Rose Kavapalu works 65 hours a week at two jobs, yet struggles to make ends meet.

"It is really hard but I don't have any choice. I have to do to look after my family," she says.

Her work ethic earned her a shout out from the Prime Minister in April.

"And even Rose, a cleaner at Otahuhu police station… I hope we continue to recognise them long after this pandemic has passed," Jacinda Ardern

Now Kavapalu has a message for the Prime Minister - introduce fair pay agreements as soon as possible.

"We really need it to improve the health of New Zealanders on low and minimum wage," she says.

Kavapalu is one of many workers finding they're having to work more, for less reward. The CTU's annual work-life balance survey has found pay is not keeping up with the cost of living.

"People talked a lot about their experience of particularly long work hours, in feeling like the work that they do just isn't valued in terms of how that is reflected in their pay packet," CTU secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges says.

This sentiment echoed on the streets in Wellington.

"I know some people who took some paycuts and worked some longer hours, especially if you owned your own business," one person says.

"I think we have worked a lot harder last year and I think we are earning a lot less," another said.

In the survey of more than 1200 CTU supporters, 53 percent felt they were not paid fairly for their work, with their workload and hours worsening.

COVID-19 also had many fearing for their jobs.

"One of the things which would make a massive difference to these results is having a better sector bargaining-based framework," Ansell-Bridges says.

"That's what we are hoping to see with the fair pay agreement legislation which we would like to happen sometime this year."

The Government didn't respond to requests for comment.