The diocese of Dunedin has come out strongly in support of the living wage principle.
Moved by the Diocesan social justice committee chair, Rev Michael Wallace, a motion to synod last weekend called on the diocese to support the Aotearoa-wide living wage campaign, to join the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services campaign for improved government funding in aged care, and where possible, to move to a living wage for diocesan employees.
The motion passed almost unanimously.
An original motion requested a shift to the living wage for all diocesan employees, but this was amended after research with diocesan rest homes showed that compliance may be impossible for some institutions at current rates of government aged-care funding.
The motion was supported by St John's Roslyn synod rep, David Fielding, Professor of Economics at Otago University.
Professor Fielding lent his support to the motion as an ethical reaffirmation of the church's responsibility to see the whole of society earn a living wage. In his opinion, the motion rightly did not propose a mechanism by which that might happen.
Professor Fielding noted that much opposition to the living wage motion expressed on the synod floor opposed minimum wage legislation, rather than what the motion addressed.
He said later that even as the church gets behind the NZCCSS campaign for increased government aged-care subsidies, synod's living wage motion also has implications for the church's own approach to wage levels.
"The church as a whole has resources, and it might like to think about how it spends its resources".
The full motion read:
Resolved by the synod of the Diocese of Dunedin:
a) That this Diocese supports the campaign to get more New Zealanders on to a living wage;
b) That when possible all diocesan institutions move toward paying a living wage for all employees;
c) That this Diocese works with the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services in asking central and local government to improve models of funding for aged care that allow social support organisations to be living wage employers;
d) That the Diocesan Social Justice Working Group educate the diocese about the living wage campaign and report to the next session of synod on the implementation of this motion.