Ambitious plans for Hamilton to lead councils nationally in rolling out an $18.40 per hour minimum “living wage” are in doubt after official estimates of its cost nearly quadrupled.
The council voted in May to introduce a living wage over two years, from this year, on the strength of a February estimate it would cost $168,000 to lift pay rates for 80 permanent council staff now paid between the minimum and living wages.
But management now say the resolution covers 144 staff, and a revised estimate shows the cost will be at least $643,000.
Maybe the Councillors could cut their own pay, to cover the cost? Why should ratepayers have to fund their mistake?
Managers have also warned that the policy could become a can of worms, with Living Wage campaigners promising to review the wage amount annually.
Scenarios costed for city councillors show that a $1 increase to the living wage rate by July 1 next year would lift the two-year cost to $959,000.
So the Council has agreed to automatically lift their wages to whatever level some two person outfit in Lower Hutt determines is the living wage? If they say it is now $25 an hour, they’ll just pay everyone that and send ratepayers the bill?
Management have recommended that council give itself the right to refuse further increases to the living wage rate unless it first considers the impact.
Which implies the Council has just voted to write a blank cheque every year, based on what this self-appointed group determine should be the “living” wage.