Wellington City Council is sticking to its guns on the living wage – a move that could cost it an extra $2.4 million and expose it to costly legal action.
The council, which has been paying its own staff a living wage since 2013, took the bold step on wednesday of requiring contractors who provide its security services to do the same.
In doing so, it flew in the face of warnings from its own officers and chief executive Kevin Lavery that it would effectively be paying $2.4m, or 19 per cent, more than the going rate for guarding, noise control and cash collection services over the seven-year life of the security contract without seeing any extra benefit.
Lavery did not mince words at Wednesday's council meeting.
He told councillors they were asking him to implement something the council's lawyers felt was illegal, as the Local Government Act prohibits councils from paying more than they need too for services without any corresponding benefit.
There was a very real risk the council could be taken to court, and could lose, he said.
So the Councillors ignored the legal advice, because hey if they get taken to court they won't have to pay – ratepayers will.
I hope the Chamber of Commerce does take the Council to court and seek a ruling they have acted illegally.
HOW THEY VOTED
For: Celia Wade-Brown, Justin Lester, Sarah Free, Iona Pannett, Helene Ritchie, ray ahipene-mercer, David Lee, Paul Eagle, Mark Peck.
Against: Andy Foster, Jo Coughlan, Simon Woolf, Simon Marsh, Nicola Young, Malcolm Sparrow.
Remember the for names when you get your rates bill.