Brewer on Pants Down Brown and the Living Wage

Cameron Brewer has an opinion piece in the NBR, it deserves much wider coverage…so now it appears here.

Auckland Council’s blocking of the Living Wage policy is another big blow to Auckland Mayor Len Brown.

When his own credibility crisis broke in October he promised to fast-track the living wage to shore up a bit of political support and keep the left happy.

Now he’s failed to deliver it and rest assured any followers he has left have lost even more faith in him.

This was going to be a circuit breaker for Mr Brown but he has failed. This second term is going to be so much harder for him and his Labour mates to push their political agenda through. 

Len Brown is a lame duck mayor, with no credibility an no friends. He will find he loses more than he wins. The dynamic in council has changed.

Mr Brown’s planned political expediency was beaten by better process. The council’s decision is a much more prudent and considered approach.

At the last council meeting of the year to sign off the draft 2014/15 annual plan for public consultation in the new year, I put up an amendment, seconded by Dick Quax which was won 11/10.

The successful amendment read: “That the Governing Body agrees that Auckland Council first and foremost prepare a remuneration policy in the 2014/15 financial year, and as part of that policy work fully investigate the costs and wider implications on the organisation, business community and region of the Living Wage policy and have the CE back to the Governing Body at a later date.”

So I’m pleased to have got it through with the support of others. It’s a saving for suburban ratepayers and businesses will be relieved they won’t be subjected to more pressure.

Ramming through the living wage like Wellington did with hypocritical councillors like Mark Peck who voted in favour but won’t deliver the living wage to his own employees, is always fraught with danger. No research had been done, no calculations, Len Brown simply rang up the CEO on the morning of the announcement and said they were going to do it anyway.

I’ve been dragged into the likes of cleaning and landscaping businesses and shops and have been told a living wage policy by the council would hit Auckland businesses and ultimately cost jobs by creating an unlevel playing field in the local labour market.

Businesspeople were genuinely worried so I’m pleased we were able to put the brakes on. More work needs to be done and now it can be.

The interesting thing is that in November the living wage narrowly got through to the next stage at the Budget Committee because two Independent Maori Statutory Board members supported it.

But when it got to full council where Maori don’t have seats or a vote, Mr Brown lost.

The reality is with the centre right picking up a few more seats at the October elections, and with the Mayor losing support and confidence around the table since, we are going to see the centre-left lose a few more votes at the Governing Body this term.

Len Brown should jack it in, he no longer can bully and cajole councillors…even though he has bought off a few for just $13,000 per annum.

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