GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Living wage & free lunches


Two good things this week.
(1) The Warehouse reached an in-principle agreement with First Union to pay the living wage to the vast majority of its employees . (Yay! First Union!)

Warehouse staff members will be paid at least $20.50 an hour until August 2020, when it should increase to $21.15.

(2) The government announced trial free lunch in schools programme

Starting next year, roughly 5000 Year 1-8 children across 30 schools in Rotorua and Hawke’s Bay will receive a free lunch five days a week as part of the policy’s trial.

Great to see these things happening and I applaud this positive direction.

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However it really is just a start towards wage fairness. The reality is that if Labour had not introduced neoliberal economics and National had not put it on steroids we would not have a low wage economy. If unions had not been busted and wages had kept up with national productivity the living wage would actually be nearer $40 per hour not $20

And if we asked ourselves “Do our kids deserve as much of a start in life as the kids in Sweden and Finland ?” Then we would have school cafe’s in every school, with local cooks and chefs employed to make a HEALTHY sit down meal for ALL our children everyday .

We certainly wouldn’t think that having a box of free filled rolls for teachers to hand out was the solution to the significant child health problems we have in our country.

How should we be doing it?

Take at look at this segment from my Documentary Inside Child Poverty in which I visit a Swedish school in an area equivalent to South Auckland. I filmed it 8 years ago .

Please check it out and tell your MP this is what we really should be doing for ALL our kids.

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Yep you got it in one. In my view Labour have taken more than they have given over the last 30 + years. I can not personally see see real change emanating from them as long as they continue down the neo liberal path either.

    As I keep saying we need new parties and voters to take off the blinders.

    • > we need new parties

      We’ve tried that. NZ First, Greens, Mana, and the Alliance before them all, have campaigned on platforms of ending neoliberalism. Yet for whatever reason, ever since the 1980s whichever parties get enough votes to form a government have always set policy within neoliberal boundaries, even when they seem to campaign against it (National in 1990, Labour, NZ First and Greens in 2017 etc). It’s almost like whoever you vote for, late capitalism wins … 😉

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