With hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders living below the poverty line, there is no cause for celebration at the publication of the National Business Review Rich List, FIRST Union says.
The NBR’s annual publication, out this morning, reports an increase from 2012 of $3.5 billion in total minimum net worth among Rich Listers.
The union's comments come after Labour MP Andrew Little also raised the spectre of growing inequality in response to the Rich List.
“Back where the rest of us live, workers are faring much worse those at the top of the economic pile,” FIRST Union general secretary Robert Reid says.
“There is a growing concern among New Zealanders about income inequality.
"The Bryan Bruce child poverty documentary, Max Rashbrooke’s recently published book on inequality and the work of many community organisations on welfare reforms, housing and other issues has intensified the debate in recent years," he says.
“And we now have a Living Wage movement that is drawing attention to low wages in New Zealand, and what some of the solutions are.”
The union’s 46 member meetings across the country got under way this week.
Mr Reid says there has been a lot of discussion at them about low wages being one of the biggest drivers of poverty here.
“There is no excuse for families living in damp, cold houses and children going to school without food when New Zealand has more than enough collective resource to provide for its people," Mr Reid says.
“The top 1% owns three times as much wealth as the poorest 50%, and so while the Rich List is celebrated today among those on very high incomes, unions like ours will refuse to accept this inequality and continue to push for a more equal society."
The FIRST (Finance, Industrial, Retail, Stores & Transport) Union has about 27,000 members. It was created in 2011 when the National Distribution Union merged with bank workers' union Finsec.