Living wage not new

A ‘living wage’ is not a recent political ideal. 100 years ago the Dunedin City Council was trying to provide a living wage for married men

ODT 100 years ago:  Sorting jobs for discharged soldiers

Living wage approved

In accordance with notice of motion at the Dunedin City Council meeting, Cr Bradley moved –

(a) That all the corporation employees’ pay be raised to a living wage, and that no married man shall receive less than 3 pounds for a week’s work consisting of six days;

(b) that all married men receiving 3 pounds 5 shillings per week and under shall receive a war bonus of 5 per cent on his wages for each child under 14 years;

(c) that no employee, either male or female, over 18 years shall receive less than 20 shillings per week.”

3 pounds converted to $6 in 1967, and 5 shillings concerted to 50 cents.

Cr Bradley was granted leave to add the words to the beginning of the motion “that it be a recommendation to the Finance Committee”. In speaking briefly to the question, he said the motion spoke for itself. He thought the time had now arrived when some steps should be taken to place married men on a better footing as regards pay. He thought every councillor recognised the necessity of an increase being granted in the direction he had indicated, and that every councillor was prepared to see a living wage paid to the council’s employees.

Child labour was common to, even for town boys (it’s probably still normal for farm kids to do some work at home):

Boys for farm work

Although the school holidays are yet at least a month distant, it seems that, owing to the desire to utilise the services of lads during the shearing season, a number of boys will probably be leaving school next week for work in the country, and week by week more will follow.

The Director of the Technical School has a number of boys going to stations at Gladbrook, Omarama, Matakanui, and farms in different parts of Otago. This is in accord with a decision of the board, which does not intend to prolong the holidays.

– ODT, 15.11.1917.


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1 Comment

  1. patupaiarehe

     /  15th November 2017

    Interesting Pete. As a married man, who is a bit too fond of his wife, I would have got 1/4 of my wage on top of it every week…
    Personally, I believe that people should be remunerated upon their skills, not their life choices. If you want to be paid more, you should get better at what you do, rather than have more kids…


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