NZ Election 2020: Labour promises living wage for all public service contractors

Labour has promised to pay all contractors in the public service at least the living wage.

Currently set at $22.10, the living wage is the amount needed to "pay for the necessities of life and participate as an active citizen in the community". It's significantly above the present minimum wage of $18.90.

In 2018 the Labour-led Government made the living wage, updated annually, the minimum it pays anyone employed by the core public service. Workplace relations spokesperson Andrew Little said it's time to expand that to contractors too.

"As we recover and rebuild from the impacts of COVID-19, Labour is committed to helping working New Zealanders by raising wages, protecting them while they are at work, growing jobs and investing in the economy," he said on Saturday.

"That's why, as part of our economic plan, we will extend the living wage to core public sector contractors in the next parliamentary term."

He said it would boost pay for contractors presently on the minimum wage by nearly $100 a week. 

"Paying contracted workers a living wage will be a great boost to their household incomes and improve life for them and their families," added economic development spokesperson Phil Twyford.

"This money will be spent back in the community, meaning it will benefit the wider economy at the same time. Paying the living wage to contracted workers is a win for everyone."

About 70 percent of those benefited from the 2018 adoption amongst the core public service were women, Little said. 

The policy would be rolled out as existing contracts end, and cost about $18 million a year. 

The living wage is calculated each year by the New Zealand Family Centre Social Policy Unit. It typically runs a few dollars above the minimum wage, which is expected to rise to $20 next year if Labour is re-elected.

National has said it might cancel the planned increase. The Māori Party wants to raise it to $25