BY Virginia Woods Jack from Lightwood Studio
As you walk up the stairs to the home of Good Fortune Coffee Co housed within the ever-popular Seashore Cabaret in Petone you are greeted by the many familiar sounds of coffee making. The clattering of cups as they are lifted from the warmth of the coffee machine, the grinding of the coffee and whirring of the machine as the coffee is pulled to perfection. The hissing of the steam the snapping thud of the milk jug banging on the counter settling the milk to create the perfect flat white. I order my own favourite take out coffee, a flat white, and take my seat whilst I wait for owner Matt Wilson to chat about Good Fortune’s latest accreditation of becoming a Living Wage employer and why this is so important to him.
Started just over two years ago Good Fortune is the first coffee roaster in NZ to become a Living Wage accredited employer. Matt explains it was his intention from the start to create ‘a very caring coffee company’. Only roasting 100% fairtrade coffee beans brought to NZ by Trade Aid ensures that the farmers and co-ops involved are paid fairly and that more of the money goes back into great initiatives that Trade Aid support.
The team at Good Fortune Coffee Co is a small one, so Matt openly admits that making the choice to be a Living Wage Employer wasn’t hard particularly but it was important. The margins in coffee roasting allow for a Living Wage and believes that this it true for many businesses and hopes that more will follow suit. Matt isn’t limiting this approach to only The Good Fortune Coffee Co, he is also implementing the same approach at The Seashore Cabaret with 60-70% of the payroll now being either on or above a living wage a 100% target of March 2019.
“This isn’t an easy task in an industry like hospitality where a lot of staff are paid the minimum wage but once I was aware of the living wage movement I knew I wanted to pay people properly, that it was something I could be really proud of and at the same time prove to other businesses that it is possible. You can run a successful business and still pay people decently.”
- Matt, Owner, Seashore Cabaret
This sentiment was reiterated by Joyce Tung one of the baristas. In her early 30’s she has been in the coffee business for nearly half her life and this is the first time she has been paid a living wage, she explained “I now feel that my experience and skills are being valued… I can now look at this as a career path and I am enjoying being able to save and think of my future, being paid a living wage feels like it has opened up opportunities I never had before”.
Matt explains that there are steps you can take as an employer to encourage businesses you contract to adopt the living wage. They negotiated with the cleaning company that the cleaners they send are paid a living wage for the time they spend cleaning for them. What a great way to step into this arena and garner support for this movement.
The Living wage movement is gaining traction, as Matt explains “It’s great having other brands like Fix and Fogg involved as it gives a great marketing edge and it’s a great community where we all support each other where we can, we offer a discount to all living wage employers on our coffee. We've had the Living Wage on the coffee bag design from day one as a bit of marketing and to raise awareness as a lot of people still don’t know enough about it.”
Matt applauds the current governments plan to raise the minimum wage to $20 by April 2021 and joins us in the hope one day we won’t even need the Living Wage accreditation. Until then let’s get behind the business that are making that choice to invest in their staff and encourage more to take this step as this isn’t just an investment in people but in society as a whole and one that we at CC support wholeheartedly.
What is Living Wage?
The Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ state that: 'A living wage is the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. A living wage will enable workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society. We call upon the Government, employers and society as a whole to strive for a living wage for all households as a necessary and important step in the reduction of poverty in New Zealand.'