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.
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.