The headline at Stuff (here) is somewhat misleading.
It says –
Key not keen on Living Wage
This is a reference (as we shall see) to The Boss.
And The Boss happened to have been discussing this matter with a colleague who passed on the gist of their chat to Alf, who accordingly can be sure about what Key is keen on and isn’t so keen on.
For the record, bearing in mind this comes to us somewhat second-hand, he is supposed to have said he is not keen on a living wage for those lower down in the pecking order, but he is very much in favour of a living wage – with plenty left over – for himself.
A luxury living wage, in fact.
But naturally, he is keeping this thinking to himself.
The first para of the Stuff report makes plain he was not actually discussing whether or nor he should be paid a living wage and if so what he thought about it.
Prime Minister John Key says whether companies pay above the minimum wage is “a matter for them” with the Government unlikely to endorse a living wage campaign.
All this chatter about living wages comes about because later this week the Kiwi Living Wage campaign will be launched.
According to Stuff, this campaign is expected to push for a minimum wage of at least $18 an hour, well above the current $13.50 rate.
But Key said this was not on the agenda of the Government.
“What companies or council organisations choose to do in terms of paying their staff is a matter for them. The only area where the government plays a role is in setting the minimum wage. If you ask me whether we intend to raise the minimum way to 18 dollars an hour, the answer is no, not in the next 12 months,” he said.
“There’s always got to be a balance there between, obviously, people needing to pay their bills and meeting their liabilities, but the counter of that of course is, making sure they remain employed or get employment. That’s the balancing act we’re constantly trying to manage.”
The Boss tossed in an observation about the labour market, which he said “hasn’t been that strong” in recent months.
Official figures showed unemployment fell by 0.4 per cent to 6.9 per cent in the December quarter.
But there was a sharp drop in the participation rate in the labour market, which commentators reckon means some workers may be dropping out by focusing on full time study or retiring earlier than they might have otherwise.
In the circumstances, you would think, anyone wanting a job will be happy to accept whatever is offered.
They don’t have to live on it. They simply have to work for it.