10 Oct 2013

Greens say Labour's living wage policy 'misses the point'

6:42 am on 10 October 2013

The Green Party says Labour has missed the point of the living wage campaign and could end up turning workers against one another.

Labour leader David Cunliffe promised on Wednesday that, if elected, he'd ensure all core public sector employees were paid a minimum of $18.40 an hour.

Metiria Turei.

Metiria Turei. Photo: GREEN PARTY

The Greens, staunch supporters of the living wage campaign, say Labour's policy misses out those most in need of a pay rise, but who may not be "core" public sector employees.

"The living wage is most desperately needed by those services that are contracted by the public service. Like for example the cleaners in parliament, they are the ones who have the lowest wages and they need the biggest boost."

Ms Turei says Labour's commitment could also upset workers in the private sector who think they're missing out.

But Mr Cunliffe says the government has to set an example for all other businesses.

Economic development minister Steven Joyce says Mr Cunliffe is making promises he can't keep.

"If he was right about the living wage why stop at $17-$18, why not treble it, because if it doesn't have any effect on business growth then why stop where he is proposing to stop it?"