Wellington City Council becomes country's first living wage council

Living wage advocates are claiming an historic day in their movement, as more than 100 employers pay their staff a living wage.

Wellington City Council officially became one of those employers today - the first council in the country to do so.

Junior arborist Kayne Prior Jr has a baby on the way, and says being on the living wage will help him provide for his family.

His employer ProClimb is one of 110 accredited Living Wage Employers, and council head of operations Will Phillips says it allows them to attract the best.

"It just raises the standard in the industry," he said.

Living Wage Aotearoa released a list of living wage employers today and among them is Wellington City Council - the first fully accredited living wage council.

The council's core staff have been on a living wage since 2013 - now its contractors are too. Wellington Mayor Justin Lester wants other councils and businesses to follow suit.

"There are economic benefits - sometimes you need to think outside the box. If you pay more, you get better people," he says.

So how much more do they pay? 


The living wage was $18.40 when first announced in 2013 and over the past five years it's increased to $20.55 - that's $4 more than the minimum wage.

Living wage advocates hope big businesses will consider making that change, but Business New Zealand chief executive Kirk Hope says most already pay their staff equivalent to living wage.

He says any increase has a knock-on effect for consumers.

"They can charge for their goods and services at a price which enables them to pay the minimum wage or above that."

Mr Hope says the cost of the council paying contractors living wage will fall directly onto the ratepayers.

The council has budgeted $3.4 million per year for the next decade, to pay up to 700 staff the living wage.