7 Nov 2015

Chamber of Commerce 'stuck in dark ages'

9:59 am on 7 November 2015

Wellington's deputy mayor is accusing the Chamber of Commerce of being the 'fun police' after the organisation decided to take court action against the city council.

The chamber said it will apply for a High Court judicial review of the council's decision to extend its living wage of $19.25 per hour to its security guards.

Justin Lester said the additional money will have no impact on ratepayers and the increase will be offset by taking $250,000 from its existing personnel and travel budget of $91 million.

The security workers did a hard job, worked late at night as well as putting their life on the line and deserved recognition, he said.

"The Chamber of Commerce just want to be the fun police in Wellington. It seems that they don't want us to spend $500,000 this weekend on fireworks in the city, they don't want us to spend on the Santa Parade and they don't want us to pay our staff a reasonable wage either.

"They want it to be at $14.75 or $15 because they don't respect the job that our staff do. Look, this is 2015, unfortunately on this issue I think the chamber is stuck in the dark ages."

However Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford said the issue was not about the merits of the living wage, but ensuring the lawfulness of the council's decision.

"We are taking these proceedings because we believe this decision is not prudent stewardship or efficient and effective use of ratepayer resources, 47 percent of which is contributed by Wellington businesses, nor is it a function that is cost-effective for households and businesses.

"These are councillors' clear obligations under the Local Government Act.

"The act is there to ensure good governance and to protect ratepayers' interests and the chamber will be asking the High Court to decide if this is happening in this case."

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