New living wage a ‘step in the right direction’

New living wage a ‘step in the right direction’

Newtown Library security guard Wayne Richtale - a life saved by the living wage.

The new living wage rate is a “step in the right direction”, says Newtown Library security guard Wayne Richtale.

The living wage rate, an amount calculated to cover the living expenses of an individual while allowing them to enjoy moderate comforts,  was increased to $21.15 on April 1, a 60 cent increase from last year.

Before he started receiving the living wage two years ago, Richtale said his head was “always underwater. Even on the minimum wage it’s not enough, given the cost of petrol, food, and accommodation.”

Richtale used to sell his possessions, such as his lawn mower, just to put food on the table.

He would ring a temporary work agency every morning asking for work, until after two weeks “they knew exactly who was calling at that time of day”.

Eventually, Richtale was offered three days of work assembling supermarket orders, which he accepted, until he received another offer for three month’s work.  

Richtale declined the second offer, not wanting to back out of his commitment to the original offer, even though it made his struggle greater.

After completing a security training course, Richtale managed to secure a permanent job at the Newtown Library, and began receiving the living wage. “Now my head is above water most of the time, and I’m able to plan ahead.”

Richtale said he wouldlove  everybody to receive the living wage, but thought the cost of everything would go up if that were to happen.

Despite this, he believes the more people who can transition onto the living wage the better. “The more money people have, the more they spend, then the economy can blossom.

“The living wage is a big advantage, but it’s more than that. It can give people hope.”

Wellington City councillor Fleur Fitzsimons believes the new living wage rate is a “modest” increase.

It is still a relatively low wage and more needs to be done to increase wages and ensure working people have secure jobs.”

 

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