Waikato Regional Council candidates were asked these two questions:
The official 2019 New Zealand Living Wage is currently $21.15.
- Do you support the Living Wage being implemented for all those employed by Waikato Regional Council?
- Do you support the Waikato Regional Council procurement policies being changed to ensure that all contracted workers who are delivering a regular and ongoing service, such as bus drivers and cleaners, are paid a living wage?
Our preferred candidates are:
- Jennifer Nickel (Hamilton)
- Alana Delich (Taupō-Rotorua)
- Denis Tegg (Thames-Coromandel)
- Fred Lichtwark (Waikato)
- Dan Armstrong (Waipā-King Country)
The verbatim answers from each candidate are below.
Jennifer Nickel (Hamilton)
- Yes, I support the Living Wage being implemented as a minimum for any employees of Waikato Regional Council. I believe anyone working should have enough money to live. If government organisations can’t lead on an obvious wellbeing imperative such as providing a dignified level of pay for staff then how can others in the community be expected to do so.
- Yes, I support Waikato Regional Council procurement policies being changed to ensure all contracted workers are paid a living wage. I would expect the Council to work together with their ongoing service providers to enable a transition over a mutually agreed time-frame if required.
Barry Quayle (Hamilton)
I support the living wage for all those employed by the Waikato Regional Council. Please note that all council staff are now paid the living wage.
I support the Waikato Regional Council procurement policies being changed to ensure contracted workers who are delivering a regular and ongoing service be paid the living wage. it should be noted that as an action point the WRC made provision for bus drivers. However NZTA and Go bus have to also make provision as three policies are involved. But we have fronted with our piece of the pie.
Contractors and cleaners are now covered by a recent provision of council to award additional credit points to any contract proposal for service from a provider who are paying the minium wage to their staff. So an advantage exists for companies who pay the minimum wage to gain WRC contracts.
[Note from OA: We discovered that the WRC still has several employees being paid less than the living wage, including one on $18.50 per hour. Barry Quayle’s response is below. Our position is that students and casuals should still be paid the living wage.]
We have confirmed that these were part time students who received approx $20 per hour and were doing some holiday work.
So no permanent or part time permanent staff get below the minimum wage.
William Durning (Hamilton)
- Without access to the cost implications of such a move, I would not be able at this time to support such a proposal.
- As I stated in the previous question, I would be unable at this time to support such a proposal without the detail on what financial impact such a decision would make. I do believe that roles such as cleaners and bus drivers do demand a higher rate of pay than the minimum wage. When identifying that appropriate level of pay, not only should it reflect the skill required to complete the work, it also needs to be balanced against the level of rates that we collect from people across the region.
Russ Rimmington (Hamilton)
I support the living wage. Ive done my best as Chairman of Hamilton Public transport to ensure this becomes a policy of the WRC. To this end I have invites a presenation to full council, which was well received.
Peter Koizumi (Hamilton)
Can I answer these questions from two angles?
As a Waikato Regional Council rate payer I would advocate for the establishment of a financial budget for all employees to be on the living wage. Recently the cost of rates increased significantly and I would be interested as a rate payer to establish exactly what those increases were targeting. Once we all understand what the costs are then I believe other rate payers would join together to support the living wage being implemented.
Similarly until rate payers understand the economics around ensuring that contracted workers are also treated under the same rules as WRC workers it would be difficult to proceed without knowing the full consequences. As always it will be the rate payer or end user that needs to pay for any increase in wages.
As a WRC councillor I would listen to what my constituents were wanting and then I would advocate for change if this appeared to be the majority view.
I hope this provides the answers you were looking for.
Angela Strange (Hamilton)
- I believe that there is budget allocated to improve bus drivers wages, but regional council is awaiting government partnership to resolve this.
If elected, I will explore progress on this issue and I would be open to discussions around cleaners being paid a loving wage.
Tony Dixon (Hamilton) did not respond to our emails.
Alana Delich (Taupō-Rotorua)
- As I understand is all Waikato Regional Council employees already recieve a living wage. But if this is incorrect then I absolutely support them recieve a living wage.
- Yes I support the Waikato Regional Council procurement policies being changed to ensure that all contracted workers who are delivering a regular and ongoing service, such as bus drivers and cleaners, are paid a living wage.
Kathy White (Taupō-Rotorua)
- Yes I support the Living Wage being implemented for all those employed by WRC.
- Yes, I agree with procurement policies being changed to ensure that all contracted workers who are delivering a regular and ongoing service, such as bus drivers and cleaners, are paid a living wage.
Bernhard Chrustowski (Taupō-Rotorua)
- In principal I agree and support the notion of Waikato Regional Council paying all its staff the NZ Living Wage of $21.15
- Again as above I support in principle the notion of all contractors employed by WRC being paid the NZ Living Wage.
I would however like to see what the possible if any ramifications would be on our future rates and WRC operating budget.
In the interest of openness, transparency, fairness and democracy I would also like to hear from WRC and the Ratepayers.
Denis Tegg (Thames-Coromandel)
I have been a long time supporter of a living wage for council workers and contractors – see my blog from March 2017 – https://teggtalk.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/living-wage-for-council-workers/
Clyde Graf (Thames-Coromandel)
- Yes, I do SUPPORT the Living Wage being implemented for all those employed by Waikato Regional Council.
- Yes, I do SUPPORT contractors such as bus drivers and cleaners, being paid the Living Wage.
How to fund it? An overhaul of senior staff wages would be a start. I find it offensive that senior staff are paid so highly, yet the hard-working and dedicated low-paid workers are struggling so much. The cost of living is on a constant ascending slide, and minimum wages are not keeping up. It must change.
Liam Kedzlie (Thames-Coromandel)
- I support any progress towards the implementation of a living wage policy for the Waikato Regional Council.
- I am sure that their is scope within the Waikato Regional Councils procurement and budgetary capacity to enable contractual arrangements or meeting of tender qualification criteria with outsourced service providers that could achieve a living wage for contracted workers who are delivering a regular and ongoing service to Council, without compromising the management of positive environmental outcomes.
Dal Minogue (Thames-Coromandel)
1) The current Council, of which I am a member, has already ensured that all direct employees of the Waikato Regional Council are paid at least the minimum wage. So the answer to this question is yes.
[Note from OA: We discovered that the WRC still has several employees being paid less than the living wage, including one on $18.50 per hour. Dal Minogue’s response is below. Our position is that students and casuals should still be paid the living wage. Many students support families and have precarious livelihoods. Low wages contribute to student poverty, so the Waikato Regional Council should be leading by example by paying workers enough to live on.]
Staff should have contacted you with information about this? All WRC permanent / fixed term staff are paid the living wage. A handful of casual staff (students) are not however, which is normal practice as students have other means of financial assistance and are unlikely to have to support a family or deal with home ownership costs etc.
2) It is not a simple matter to alter procurement policies as you suggest as:
- a) In dollar terms most of the value of Waikato Regional Council contracts are executed alongside the Central Government and must conform with their policies and;
- b) Central Government has indicated a staggered move to the living wage because of affordability issues.
Gray Baldwin (Waihou)
I wouldn’t support either policy until I had the information on how implementation of a Living Wage would affect rates.
Bill Cox (Waihou)
Hi yes l support all council staff and contractors being paid the living wage even that is a straggler to live on now days
Hugh Vercoe (Waihou)
Waikato Regional Council employs just over 500 staff and the average salary is $97,000
I am happy that all staff are well remunerated
Incumbent Stu Husband (Waihou) did not respond to our emails.
Tara Jesperson (Waihou) did not respond to our emails.
Fred Lichtwark (Waikato)
- Yes I do. All Waikato Regional Council staff receive at least the at least the LIVING WAGE @ $21.15.
- Yes I do. However, the contracts for tenders to provide bus services require agreement between Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council and NZ Transport Authority. Without the agreement of the other two agencies, Waikato Regional Council is unable to ensure that a Living Wage is paid to contracted bus drivers. However I will continue to lobby for all W.R.C.’s contractors be paid at least a living wage . As I pay my staff , that I employ for Whaingaroa Harbour Care a living wage .
Richard Gee (Waikato)
- Yes if it can be afforded without increasing rates or reducing services
- Yes if it can be afforded without increasing rates or reducing services
Pamela Storey (Waikato)
In principle, I support the Living Wage Movement and encourage businesses, organisations and government bodies and agencies to adopt a Living Wage policy when and where they can. If elected, I would support Waikato Regional Council to do just that, as well as incorporate it into its procurement policies. I do acknowledge, however, that adoption of such a policy would either need to be cost neutral for Council, with additional costs being offset by savings elsewhere, or ratepayers made aware of any impact on overall budget in advance. I do feel strongly that Council should be moving towards a Living Wage position for staff and contractors, otherwise Council may find itself at risk of running services on the cheapest structure possible which may negatively impact on the quality of services provided and ratepayer experience. Once around the Council table, I will be in a better position to assess the Council’s ability to adopt these changes formally and, if elected, I would be more than happy to meet with representatives of the Living Wage Movement to discuss how we balance these objectives with the budget and financial constraints placed upon Council and ratepayers.
Keith Holmes (Waikato) did not respond to our emails.
Waipā- King Country
Dan Armstrong (Waipā-King Country)
Yes I certainly would for both – I’m eager to see how we can start the process once elected.
Stuart Kneebone (Waipā- King Country)
- Yes, noting that Council staff already receive the living wage or above.
- Yes, however with regards to bus drivers, it needs to be noted that Council are only one of several parties involved, and I am supportive of a constructive dialogue with the parties (Central Govt, bus operators etc) to address this issue. Same for cleaners, taking reasonably appropriate opportunities to revisit contracts (eg, shift to new building)
[Note from OA: We discovered that the WRC still has several employees being paid less than the living wage, including one on $18.50 per hour. Stuart Kneebone’s response is below. Our position is that students and casuals should still be paid the living wage.]
Those 13 staff you refer to are casual students employed over the summer holiday period.
Andrew MacPherson (Waipā-King Country)
- It appears that they currently pay the living wage at WRC.
- I understand that there is a proposal to pay bus drivers the Living Wage and that the WRC is waiting for the support of other parties.
[Note from OA: We discovered that the WRC still has several employees being paid less than the living wage, including one on $18.50 per hour. Andrew Macperson’s reply is below.]
That is a real surprise to me and yes if I get elected I will be in a position to investigate.
Ngā Hau e Whā
Incumbent and deputy chair Tipa Mahuta (Ngā Hau e Whā) did not respond to our emails. Tipa Mahuta has been re-elected unopposed.
Ngā Tai ki Uta
Kataraina Hodge (Ngā Tai ki Uta)
I do believe the CEO from Waikato Regional Council (WRC) will be addressing the question below on behalf of WRC and councillors.
His answers will be consistent in what was agreed upon during my tunure as Councillor for the 2016-2019 period.
[Note from OA: We didn’t receive an answer from the CEO. Hodge didn’t answer either question.]