Peck’s problems with pay

Labour Lambton Ward candidate, Mark Peck, has (predictably) been getting a hard time over at Whaleoil on what he pays his cafe staff and up till now we haven’t covered the issue and have given him a pretty fair run on here so far. But in the last week he has come out strong on the Living Wage campaign that the WCC has embraced and it all seems to be a bit messy for Peck.

He posted the following on his Facebook – and on the face of it, this looks like a reasonable post for a Labour candidate.

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The problem however, is that there appears to be a real disconnect between what candidate Peck says and what business owning Peck said and does.

In 2011 he was reported in the Dom Post as follows

He pays above minimum wage to all his nine staff, although “not a lot in some cases”. The critical issue is the level the wage is set, he says.

What I’ve learnt  is that in an industry with low margins, wage costs are very significant. I just don’t think people understand the effect a $15 minimum wage would have on businesses like this. Prices would have to go up.

And, if prices go up, customers already feeling the economic squeeze, change their spending habits. Instead of ordering off the menu, they buy cheaper pre-made food out of the cabinet. Or they eat out less. the result: less profit for the owners; less money to employ staff.

Given Peck has decided to make a play for votes through the Living Wage campaign, he has some questions to answer. The two stances don’t match and cast doubt over the platform he is putting forward as his actions seem to put him out of step with his Labour branding.

Frankly, I don’t think you can go around complaining about a $15 minimum wage one second and then push for a $19 wage for everyone else, the next. Now of course, what he pays his staff is between them and him, however, by speaking out on the Living Wage as part of his campaign, he has brought this scrutiny on himself. Peck can’t have his low wage staff and his populist Labour slogans too.

Politically it seems like an odd choice for Peck to have come out on this issue – he must have known that he has made public comment on minimum wage issues in the past. So why not leave this to his comrades, Paul Eagle and the Greens to run this one? It could be that he is trying to fit into the present day Labour Party which is to the left of the Party he was a MP for till 2005. He is likely feeling out-of-step, after all, he also referred to Labour’s flagship GST policy as “silly” and “impractical” in the same Dom Post article, which remains a policy of the Party.

So, which Peck is standing? And which Peck would we end up with after election day?

For me this cuts to the core of his candidacy, and he needs to move to resolve this apparent hypocrisy, pronto.

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5 responses to “Peck’s problems with pay

  1. I thank you for once again raising a serious challenge.

    My position on the minimum wage and the living wage are in no way inconsistent. The minimum wage sets a statutory minimum below which it is illegal to pay a worker. The living wage is a concept. It is as old as the hills and it was championed by the Catholic Church as a way of promoting the sole income family.

    You correctly say that what I pay my staff is between them and me. I pay above the current minimum in all cases. Not only that I provide other benefits for my staff. I feed them and I allow them their choice of hot drinks, and I have a staff rate for them to purchase off the menu at other times. I pay extra for staff who exhibit skill and ability and for increased productivity. These pay increases are made over time and are generous.

    The nature of service work is such that staff come and go so typically those who stay some period of time with me are paid more.

    My responsibility as an employer is to provide gainful employment to my staff on a regular basis and I can only do this by remaining profitable. The wages from the cafe into the local economy are not inconsiderable.

    A for other policy matters, my position on the Labour’s GST policy at the last election has not changed. Whether it remains a policy at the next general election only time will tell, but if it does I will remain equally opposed to this.

    My political family is Labour, for better or worse. I will not always agree with every policy plank and in my experience very few members support every policy plank. You might want to attend a Labour Party Conference sometime and listen to the debate.

    As for what sort of city councillor I would be? I will be economically literate, socially concerned, and practically disposed.

    There you have it. No I am not going to pay $19 per hour tomorrow. The unions actually are not demanding that. Some of my staff are pretty close to that now at any rate. I support the living wage because it is an idea whose time has come and if implemented responsibility any welfare benefits from increased pay will not be eroded by price inflation. Imposing a flat $19 across the board will be counter productive and completely destroy the opportunity to improve the lot of those who work for a living.

    Thank you for the opportunity of responding to your challenge.

    Mark Peck

  2. Thanks for your response Mark, but with respect, what on earth is the point of promoting a Living Wage concept, if you don’t live by it? It’s rather like saying you think everyone should be vegan as you tuck into a Big Mac.

    I think it’s odd that Labour has a platform strongly promoting this concept and has been vocal on implementing it asap at Council, when at the same time a high profile Party candidate is saying that while he totally digs the vibe of a Living Wage – it won’t be happening if that wage is coming out of his margin.

  3. Pingback: Billion dollar Bicycle Brown now backing buses | WCC Watch·

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