Are Labour and Greens paying their cleaners $18.40 an hour?

October 11th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

The Green Party says low-earning contractors at Parliament, not core public sector workers, should be first in line for a .

In a speech at the Council of Trade Unions conference this morning, Greens’ co-leader Metiria Turei said her party would have a different priority to Labour in distributing a minimum wage of $18.40 an hour – known as a “living wage”. …

At present, Parliament’s cleaners earned $14.10 an hour.

Later this month, Opposition MPs will spend a night working alongside the cleaners in Parliament to draw attention to what they feet is unequal employment conditions and wages.

Will Labour and Greens walk the walk and pay their own cleaners $18.40 an hour? Will TV3 whose Campbell Live programme has been campaigning on this also. I mean surely they are not so hypocritical as to demand everyone else must pay $18.40 an hour yet not do so themselves?

Labour and Greens can go to the cleaning company that cleans their offices through the Parliamentary Service and give them some extra money from their budgets, to be given to the cleaners who work in their offices. It would mean they have slightly less money to spend on press secretaries and the like – but surely they are doing so?

It’s easy to do a photo op stunt for one night. It’s harder to do something meaningful and actually pay the higher wages yourself that you demand others do.

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30 Responses to “Are Labour and Greens paying their cleaners $18.40 an hour?”

  1. burt (8,272 comments) says:

    Will the Green party make sure their politicians are only paid a maximum of 3x the minimum wage ?

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  2. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    Sad indictment of political hypocrisy.

    Get the media onside no matter what.

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  3. Bill Ted (93 comments) says:

    But that would require them to have principles. Rough calulation – say there are 10 cleaners earning $14.10 an hour, that’s an extra $4.30 per cleaner per hour. They work roughly 30 hour weeks, so that’s maybe $1250 a week for the crew, or $65k a year. Scrap one staffer or just stop paying people to collect signatures on their petitions and it’s sorted. Will they do it though?

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  4. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    “Equality” and “fairness” are tools used by the Left to pummel the opposition and endear their supporters.

    I don’t care how much money the rich make or have, as long as I’m able to make enough for me. I see wealth–not just money–as a crop that is grown and harvested. Yet apparently to the Left wealth is only a finite supply of money and I don’t have enough because the wealthy hoard it all.

    Socialists want the rewards that others have worked for, even though they have not expended risk to obtain those things. They are the union members of life, wanting the same rewards as the hard workers but with far less effort.

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  5. Ed Snack (1,873 comments) says:

    No no no David, it isn’t the greens who should pay, it is the taxpayer, because they’re the evil ones ( or so it seems). We’re the guilty ones for not posturing for high wages, thus morally the greens regard themselves as superior, because the say they care more.

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  6. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    Sinoti has been wheeled out on multiple occasions as the face of the living wage campaign, like this press release in February.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10865001

    However, from this information, (2 teenagers, one income) we can assume that Sinoti qualifies for quite a lot of income assistance. $235 a week from Working For Families, and a possible $59 a week accomodation support, on top of 40 hours work from 2 jobs which would garner a total of $874 a week or based on a 40 Hour Week, $21.85 an hour.

    If Cambell live is going to give us information, give us all the information.

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  7. srylands (410 comments) says:

    Apart from the hypocrisy of the Greens, the substantive effects of such idiocy should worry thinking New Zealanders.

    $18.40 per hour, is more than $38,000 per year for 40 hours per week. In my view cleaners should simply NOT be paid that much. Given the current GDP per capita in NZ (and the resultant median incomes) it is a gross distortion of labour prices. Distorted markets reduce growth potential.

    There are a range of possible economy-wide responses to a big increase in minimum wages, but I can assure you they will all make us poorer. Ironically, it is the “rich pricks” who will be least affected! Many low income workers will lose their jobs or have reduced hours, or see their nominal gains disappear in an inflation spiral. Middle income earners will either get pissed off at their new relative position, or chase higher nominal wages that will also get eroded by inflation. Either way they too will be unhappy campers.

    Cleaners have become the poster children for the living wage. To be blunt, we should not be sending a signal that you can EVER have a comfortable life as a cleaner. Cleaning jobs should be the preserve of either (a) students – and we should definitely not be concerned about them ! – or (b) people who through bad choices, bad luck, or low intelligence have decided to stay cleaners for life. If as a society we have a concern about group B – that should be addressed through the welfare or tax systems (and it already is!).

    The crazy people on The Standard (vto is one) – say it is all sweet because all the additional money is contained in New Zealand and the poor will spend it all anyway. That ignores the dynamic nature of an economy. Forcing the productive sector to pay above market prices to low income workers to spend more at KFC and The Warehouse will not make New Zealand richer. Neither will making jobs at the bottom of the labour market attractive life choices for our kids.

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  8. m@tt (629 comments) says:

    slightly, you are absolutely correct.

    Now what happens if you re-do your sums with the employer paying $18.40 per hour. What’s the tax payer forking out then? now ask yourself why you and I are subsidising this person employment to such an extent? Why is it unreasonable to ask the employer to pay a realistic sum so that only their customers bear that cost, not the tax payer?

    I never eat at McDonalds, but some of my tax goes to propping up the wages of most of their employees, therefore keeping the cost of a Happy Meal down. Shouldn’t it only be their customers that contribute to their profitably instead of artificially low wages? If that is not a socialist redistribution of wealth then I don’t know what is.

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  9. Rick Rowling (813 comments) says:

    You misunderstand.

    Pay increases for everyone, so long as somebody else pays.

    Ideally someone not from your constituency.

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  10. Sadu (129 comments) says:

    Great post David.

    Everyone screaming for a living wage who doesn’t already pay $18.40 to all their staff needs to STFU now.

    And balls to this living wage for govt staff only bullshit. If you accept that $18.40 is the bare minimum a person needs to earn (which I don’t), then make the minimum wage $18.40. Why should government staff get special minimum wage status that the rest of the country doesn’t?

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  11. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    However, from this information, (2 teenagers, one income) we can assume that Sinoti qualifies for quite a lot of income assistance.

    So, in other words, income assistance = good, a living wage = bad.

    I thought the Right were against welfare.

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  12. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    “……It’s easy to do a photo op stunt for one night. It’s harder to do something meaningful and actually pay the higher wages yourself that you demand others do……..”

    LOL – the truth will come out – and not how the Greens expect it: :cool:

    In that more complicated discussion [of the pay gap], you have to leave room at least for the option of choice—that women just don’t want to work the same way men do. Or can’t.

    Now we can get down to the nitty gritty of palimentry cleaners – WHO actually works best, and how much MORE pay do they get than someone who does LESS!

    Actually – the truth will NOT come out:

    My bet is that they will all be told by the UNION to ‘work to rule’ so that NO WORKER looks better than any other. :cool:

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  13. Cunningham (844 comments) says:

    ross69 (2,964) but they will get both FFS! Do you honestly think those plonkers will reduce WFF once they implement living wage? Besides paying everyone the living wage is a crock of shit as it is calculated for people with children.

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  14. Monty (978 comments) says:

    How much is the cleaner paid who cleans Campbell’s office?

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  15. m@tt (629 comments) says:

    Cunningham.
    Increasing the wage of someone who receives benefits reduces their entitlement. Granted it is not always in a linear fashion, but it is proportional and it WILL reduce automatically.
    The best and easiest way to get a realistic and much needed reduction in the amount we spend on benefits and income support is to first ensure it’s needed less.
    Think about it. If the ‘living wage’ campaign is a raging success then how could anyone seriously continue to condone providing income support to those actually in work?

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  16. Cunningham (844 comments) says:

    m@tt but it’s yet another cost on business and I will bet my left nut that they won’t be reducing any other costs to compensate. After all, according to the left businesses are so awash with cash that they can afford any extra costs pushed on them. A lot of their policies are nothing but an attack on business. It is kind of sickening really and with Australia right next door, we need to try and aggresively compete with them not send signals like this.

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  17. Than (473 comments) says:

    m@tt – If Labour/the Greens were proposing a package that included an $18.60 minimum wage together with cutting back both welfare and corporate tax rates that might be relevant. But they aren’t, so it isn’t.

    And anyway that doesn’t address the fundamental flaw in the whole “living wage” concept – it applies the wage needed for people in one specific life circumstance to everybody. If we had an $18.60 minimum wage a family with five children still would not have enough, while the single person without children would be gifted disposable income they didn’t need.

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  18. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    M@tt, based on a 40 Hr Week at $18.40 with 2 teenage kids, and a partner out of work, WFF gives you an extra $222 a week, or a combined pro rata rate of $23.95 an Hour. This is not taking accommodation supplements into account.

    If this is what the govt currently provides, then what is all this bullshit about a living wage?

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  19. Nigel Kearney (1,013 comments) says:

    These kind of accusations of inconsistency or hypocrisy are usually nonsense, and this is no exception.

    I think parents, not taxpayers, should pay for schooling. But I am not about to fork out $7-8k per child per year when my taxes are still paying for everyone else. There’s no inconsistency there. It is a change that will be an improvement only if everyone does it.

    M@tt’s point is correct. It is true there is no way a cleaner should be getting $38k per year. But if their employer pays them less we taxpayers are forced to dip into our pockets for WFF payments. The issue here is how much the customers of the employer should pay and how much taxpayers should pay. Of course they should just abolish WFF. But to argue against a higher minimum wage while keeping WFF (as National are doing) makes no sense.

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  20. Than (473 comments) says:

    But to argue against a higher minimum wage while keeping WFF (as National are doing) makes no sense.

    No, it makes perfect sense. With WFF you can target assistance based on how many children a couple have. With an accommodation supplement you can target people living in higher rent cities, like Auckland. A minimum wage is a blunt instrument, paying everybody the same regardless of whether they need it or whether it will be enough.

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  21. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    Ross, you miss my point. The fact that Sinoti is, by virtue of government assistance, actually receiving more than $18.40 an hour makes the bleating about not being paid that much a complete lie.

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  22. Cunningham (844 comments) says:

    Nigel Kearney but the problem is, like I said above, that the left will artificially push up wages as much as they can while continuing to supply WFF and tax businesses as much if not more. Where is the balance? They are only interested in distributing as much money as possible from business owners to their voter base. How can you possibly argue otherwise? A lot of businesses won’t absorb the cost. They will just not hire a person they might have otherwise (or let people go). That is the danger of what they propose and they know it (but don’t give a fuck).

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  23. Yoza (1,875 comments) says:

    Harriet (2,676) Says:
    October 11th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    “Equality” and “fairness” are tools used by the Left to pummel the opposition and endear their supporters.

    It should not be remotely controversial for anyone living in a civilised society to demand a dignified level of economic existence for everyone, a level below which none should be allowed to fall; and of course the Greens and Labour should ensure the policies they pursue are adhered to within their own ranks.

    When George Orwell wrote, “It is fatal to look hungry. It makes people want to kick you.” he was discussing the contempt people felt for the victims of an economic order which had so adequately provided for them themselves.

    Having nice clothes, fancy cars and flash houses isn’t enough for the well off in New Zealand, now they exercise the right to express their economic affluence through inflicting misery on those that look too hungry.
    It would be interesting to see if any advocates of this kind of economic order could provide an example of a society that has successfully progressed as a consequence of subjecting those at the bottom to a regime of perpetual punishment for being born into impoverished circumstances.

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  24. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    Cunningham – “They will just not hire a person they might have otherwise (or let people go)”

    Or, if the company can’t cover the cost of a lot of low paid employees, the company might fail completely.

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  25. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    Yoza – so is the left going to cancel WFF when the living wage comes in or not?

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  26. Nigel Kearney (1,013 comments) says:

    >A lot of businesses won’t absorb the cost. They will just not
    >hire a person they might have otherwise (or let people go).

    This misses the point. Taxpayer funded WFF payments are also a cost that has a similar overall effect. I invest in NZ businesses with the money I have left over after paying tax. A high rate of tax on my personal income destroys jobs just the same as a high minimum wage does, and it destroys higher value jobs not just low value ones.

    Now of course we should have a low minimum wage and no WFF if we want the economy to grow strongly, but if we want people to have a minimum income there is no point in arguing strongly against increasing the minimum wage while supporting the continuation of WFF.

    I don’t agree with Than’s targeting argument for other reasons. If there has to be a minimum wage, it can vary by region to cater for different living costs. But under no circumstances should people get money for having children. That has proven to be utterly disastrous.

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  27. srylands (410 comments) says:

    Yoza – “Having nice clothes, fancy cars and flash houses isn’t enough for the well off in New Zealand, now they exercise the right to express their economic affluence through inflicting misery on those that look too hungry.

    This is what is really pissing me off about the left – they think if they keep saying something it is true.

    Like:

    1. The rich pricks inflict misery on those that look hungry.

    2. National is just interested in helping “rich mates”. (In government circles I have never seen or heard any direct or indirect references to any rich mates. Most Ministers and those who serve them are usually genuinely interested in acting in New Zealand’s best interests, and in helping those on lower incomes.)

    3. The Government has “far right wing neo liberal policies”. (A The Standard staple) Umm like what?

    4. The Government has “bashed beneficiaries”. (To my knowledge not a single benefit has been reduced by this Government. All we have seen is some very very modest increases in work testing and eligibility checking.)

    Which raises the question of whether the Government could have been bolder on the policy front. e.g. selling 100% of the partially floated SOEs would not have attracted any more opprobrium than selling 49%.

    But I digress – Back to the starving poor and the living wage!

    There are no starving poor in NZ. New Zealand has one of the highest minimum wages in the world (and relative to the median wage the highest!). The nation also has a highly progressive tax system, an expensive system of in work tax credits (WFF) and an astonishingly expensive social welfare system. All paid for by the “rich pricks”.

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  28. Than (473 comments) says:

    But under no circumstances should people get money for having children. That has proven to be utterly disastrous.

    In that case the ‘living wage’ should be based on how much an individual without children needs to survive, which is less than the current minimum wage.

    But while I hate the moral hazard it creates, we have no choice but to give people money if they have children. Biology has us over a barrel on this issue – pairs of adults can and will continue having children regardless of whether they can support them. If we don’t provide welfare the result will be children starving on the street, plus massive increases in crime as desperate parents do whatever they have to to feed their children.

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  29. itstricky (1,832 comments) says:

    Sorry? Question is will the Greens pay… Yet howls of hypocrisy for what? They aren’t in Government. Their policies haven’t been passed. Save your efforts and crying for when you have evidence or otherwise. In the meantime debate…

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  30. Andronicus (219 comments) says:

    David, if you want to know what the two parties are paying their cleaners, then why not telephone them and ask?

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