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Mood of the workforce shows urgent need for change

The results are in for the CTU Together 2019 cost of living and income survey and it is clear that urgent change is needed with more than 70% of respondents reporting their incomes are not keeping up with the cost of living despite more than 55% reporting their workload has got worse.

The survey, run by the CTU’s online arm, Together, was completed by 1195 respondents over the period of January 2-5 and focused on their incomes, cost of living, and conditions of work.

CTU President Richard Wagstaff says the results are an eye-opener. “We’ve known for a long time that work in New Zealand and our employment law aren’t up to scratch but on every single metric we surveyed on we’ve found that many more people think it’s getting worse than better.

“While Kiwis’ low incomes and their high cost of living are standout issues, people are also reporting concerning levels of workload increase, loss of work/life balance and low job satisfaction.

“Our work is one of the biggest parts of our lives, it’s an indictment on us as a nation that for too many people, it has become so unfulfilling. It’s hard to see how people or the economy can do well when working people’s mood is so low.

“Last year’s employment law changes will have made a small difference to working people, but we need much larger systemic change to fix this problem. This needs to be a top priority for Government in 2019.”

Together is New Zealand’s largest online community focused on employment and rights at work.


The full survey results are available here

Qualitative feedback from respondents includes:

“After living in the UK, Australia and California coming back to NZ it is ridiculous how expensive basic groceries are – not to mention fuel and power”

“I have been in my current job 10+ yrs I have had to do 2 merit steps to be paid $22.60 pr hr. This is the same pay I was on when I left Australia 12 yrs ago. My position can be stressful & holds a lot of responsibility. I feel undervalued & underpaid.”

“I worry for families it’s getting so hard and I see children coming to school hungry and the pressure on parents is so hard”

“My rate of pay has not changed in years but the cost of living continues to rise- this is the case for many New Zealanders. I am fortunate that my husband has a reasonable income. I would simply not be able to survive on my income alone- and my situation isn’t unique.”

“90% of my pay weekly is for renting and food, cost of living is very expensive,
Wage is not enough to cover the rest.”

“I was born in NZ and resided and worked here until I was 20; I then travelled and lived in Australia for ten years. Wages and salaries are far better in Australia.”

“I have been at the top scale of my job for a few years. Living costs keep rising but my wage does not.”

“We have to budget carefully as we’re trying to save for our upcoming retirement but are learning that experiences are more valuable than things. I don’t know how families manage – there are so many extra demands and pressures.”

“Wages don’t rise with the cost of living. You just have to try and make the money you get go further. Also, my workload has increased but my hours are the same.”

“I have experienced absolutely NO job security for 5 years now, despite my best efforts.  I’m NOT IMPRESSED.”

“I earn reasonable money, but it is very hard to save, life is much more expensive compared to wages than even five years ago.”

“The gap is widening at an alarming rate. We can’t afford to live well in our own city. My children have to move from Auckland.”

“By NZ standards I earn quite well But I have also worked overseas in three different countries over a 20 year period. My net disposable income is the lowest it’s been due to the cost of living. I find basic expenditures like groceries very expensive in NZ and the cost of housing, both to buy and rent, is outrageous when compared to what people earn.”

“The cost of food housing petrol have gone up and wages have stayed the same. It’s harder to make ends meet and each week is a struggle and paying power bills is getting harder each month.”

“Increasingly expensive to eat healthily especially fresh fruit and veg and dairy is becoming a luxury. Wages have barely moved.”

“I worry for the future of my kids and grandkids.”