Just pay the Living Wage

First published in Hamilton News on 1 November 2019

Photo credit: Living Wage Aotearoa

With thanks to Wellington carpenter Samuel Parnell, we were among the first in the world to claim the right to an ‘8 hour working day’ in 1840, celebrated as Labour day since 1890.  

Today, the problem isn’t necessarily long hours spent in a factory, it’s businesses paying their staff less than the cost of living.

You’ve probably heard the term the working poor.  A growing number of Kiwis who work full-time and still cannot afford, food on the table, medical or dental work or continually increasing rents. 

While this government is increasing the Minimum Wage to $20 by 2021 it still isn’t enough, nor calculated to match the cost of living each year like the Living Wage does.

A Living Wage is the hourly wage a worker needs to pay for the necessities of life and participate as an active citizen in the community.  It is calculated annually and is currently $21.15 per hour.

If you’re an employer and “can’t afford to pay a living wage”; you should be rethinking your business model and budgets, to work out how you can do this.  It isn’t just about doing the right thing, it’s the business smart thing to do with research showing a Living Wage can lead to increases in productivity, reduced absenteeism and staff turnover.

This week was Living Wage week, I urge you to set a goal to be paying all of your employees a Living Wage by Labour Day 2020.  For more information livingwageaotearoa.co.nz

When I grow up…

Free FM podcast link 🎧 http://bit.do/episode-131

Did you choose your career or fall into it? Do you love what you do or are you stuck in a rut? 🙄

In this podcast, Amy McLean shares her journey from accounting to the fitness industry and then on to small business and personal coaching. 🤜💕🤛 We try to make sense of expectations on young people and how we can live a life that follows our values and passion.

Amy and I in the Free FM studio

If what we talk about in this podcast resonates you can follow her Facebook page and check out her blog and website http://www.m4collective.com

This Free FM podcast is brought to you with the support of Hamilton Taxis – so please show your support to them by flagging them next time you need a ride home from town!.

Situation vacant: Female city councillor

Kelli from the Tron

Published first in Hamilton News 30 November 2018

Situation Vacant: Hamilton City Councillor.  Fixed term role starts October 2019.  Remuneration starts at $71,638.  Job description:  To represent and lead the community, set policies, make regulatory decisions and review council performance.  Preference: Female.

Women hold a mere 25% of the seats in our current city council.  Did you notice?  Probably not.  We’ve become used to our local government lacking diversity in gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background.  But, imagine how different the dynamics and decision-making process of a council that truly represented our city would be.  I’m not asking for quotas to achieve diversity, we don’t need them – but we do need to support more women to put their name forward for next year’s local elections.  Will you join me?

Are we lacking strong female community leaders?  Are we short on ambitious, strategic professional women?  Would Mums with young families prefer…

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Waikato Wahine: Mary Innes

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is an exploration into the lives of trailblazing Waikato women. Over five weeks I will tell the stories of a politician, businesswomen, artist, activist and Te Ao Maori leader.

Podcast link http://bit.do/WaikatoWahine-MaryInnes

This week: Mary Innes was one of Hamilton’s first businesswomen – she saved two breweries from bankruptcy and passed on a business legacy for her sons and the city.

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is on throughout April on Free FM 89.0 at 5pm 📲 live streamed via the Access Internet Radio NZ app, via TuneIn or from freefm.org.nz

or listen to the podcast right now via this link
http://bit.do/WaikatoWahine-MaryInnes

This Free FM series is supported by the Ministry for Women, New Zealand Suffrage 125 community fund and Browsers Bookshop in Hamilton.

Kelli from the Tron Episode #110

Podcast: http://bit.do/episode110

1m “Spy vs Spy” Snake Oil Peddlers​
13:50m “I’m in love” 5 Girls​
18:57m Angela O’Leary – Hamilton City Councillor​ about Your Vote Matters – a presentation by Angela O’Leary​
35:30m “Out for the count” Knightshade​
40m Murray from Shaw’s Bird Park​ about an unwanted road going through his property and a chance to check out the park this Sunday.
47:15m “Surfin Taniwha” The Hollow Grinders​
50:10m Local events

This Free FM​ podcast is brought to you with support from Hamilton Taxi’s​. Next week on the show Golriz Ghahraman​ from Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand will be joining me.

Podcast link http://bit.do/episode110

Open letter to the Waikato Regional Council to pay contractors a Living Wage

“A Living Wage is the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. The Living Wage enables workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society”.   

Please take a minute to sign this Open letter to the Waikato Regional Council to pay contractors a Living Wage.  

Why does this matter to me and you?  I personally don’t understand how employers can justify not paying employees what it costs to live.  Unfortunately our government allows this to happen by legislating a minimum wage – which is far lower than what people need to pay their bills.  It will take leadership and political will to address this, and we’re starting with local councils.  If you’re already on a Living Wage that’s great – please help support this for your friends and whanau.  If you aren’t on a Living Wage yet, signing will start a flow on effect.  You can find out more about bringing this movement to your workplace on Living Wage Aotearoa’s website.

We have to acknowledge the Waikato Regional Council already pay directly employed staff a Living Wage – so this open letter is to ask them to extend to contractors, like bus drivers and cleaners.  Rumour has it the Waikato District Health Board is about to pilot a Living Wage, which is fantastic.  Unfortunately Hamilton City Council is lagging a little behind – but let’s hope they are watching Wellington City Council who became accredited this year.   Tautoko this movement. 

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Wendy Ganley: 1960’s Fashion Designer

The story of a 21 year old Hamiltonian, opening her own fashion boutique on Victoria street, caught my attention.  That it happened back in the 1960’s, fascinated me even more for the vision, gumption, passion and dedication it would have taken to succeed.  It was a privilege to hear Wendy Hall nee Ganley of Elle boutique talk about her early career during an event at the Waikato Museum / Te Whare Taonga o Waikato on Sunday.  The exhibition showcasing her work, “Elle & the Youthquake” was curated with the New Zealand Fashion Museum and runs until the 14th of October.

Take a sneak peek here…

A visit to the exhibition will take some of you back in time… and for the retro-curious like me, have you swooning over the display of 1960’s clothing we spend hours scouring op-shops for today.  I’ve got a little collection of dresses in the mod style which I’ve collected over the years – it’s difficult to find them in my size, but I find the shape flattering and the colour and patterns fun.

Sunday’s conversation was facilitated by Doris de Pont, a fellow designer and Director of the New Zealand Fashion Museum in front of over 40 people.

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Wendy started out by making clothes for dolls, herself and friends.  After finishing school she contemplated what might be next; and while peers may have followed a path in nursing or teaching she decided to follow her love of design, textiles and colour.  The decision was fortunate for Hamilton, which could have been forgotten as a trend setter for fashion in those days.  Because trend setter she was!  Hems were getting higher, she was cutting holes out of the midriff, using crochet loops to make her version of a fur coat and combining colours not previous paired.

She shared her love of colour, showing off the bright orange lining on the inside of her cream wedding suit – which is in the exhibition (bottom left of the photo above).  Orange has been her favourite colour though points out it doesn’t look as good on her as it used to… I’m not sure if I believe this, I get the sense when looking at her that she would still get away with it – as stylish as she has remained.

Society was changing in the 1960’s.  Youth were no longer restricted by pre-war conservatism and more women were in the workforce, giving many of us discretionary income for the first time.   In fact, one member of the audience and one of Wendy’s first customers, an ex-nurse, recalls spending “all her pay” in Elle boutique, while other’s nodded in familiarity at lay-buying their latest desires. Many of these items still hang in their wardrobes.

Another theme, coming from stories of Wendy’s early career was the industry support given to her by fellow designers and given to others in return.  Wendy learnt couture from Babs Radon in Auckland, and mentored Marilyn Sainty in return here in Hamilton.  It was through working with Barbara Penberthy of Babs Radon that she was able to see how balancing motherhood and a career could work; through setting up a space for ‘the babies’ in her Frankton workshop.

Wendy was able to share her original sample books with the audience, which showed the textile swatches she had to choose from – and the designs and combinations used to make her clothing and accessories.  I was really surprised each item was a one off – she explained there wasn’t the same awareness of economies of scale; customers wouldn’t want to be seen at the races in the same outfit as someone else and besides, it wouldn’t have been fun mass producing them that way anyway!

Before trade was opened up in the 1980’s New Zealand wasn’t inundated by cheap imported clothing; or “fast fashion” as we are now.  Buyers consumed fashion under the kaupapa of “Buy once, Buy well”.  Quality over Quantity.  These garments were often one of a kind, hand made and of high quality, particularly with New Zealand wool a common textile to use.   Collectors like myself can attest to this enduring quality – with it not being uncommon to find an immaculate 1960s dress or suit in an opshop (they obviously knew how to follow “care instructions” unlike me).

Inevitably it got me thinking about how different things are now, and most notably in comparison to fast fashion.  Will there ever be a resurgence of NZ made clothing? Will we look back some time in the future and pin point the time when we started to “Buy once, Buy well” rather than base a decision on low cost and quantity.  Will we look back in 50 years and know who our local designers were?

We are not paying “The True Cost” #fashionrevolution

The Waikato Museum / Te Whare Taonga o Waikato has booklets about the exhibition available in their shop for $15.