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Unions seek 'living wage' for thousands

A campaign aimed at major employers is set to be launched after researchers found nearly 40 per cent of working New Zealanders earn less than what is regarded as a basic living wage.

Unions are expected on Thursday and Friday to launch a study by researchers at the Anglican Church's Family Centre in Lower Hutt which has calculated what is seen as a "living wage" needed for a basic quality life.

The rate is expected to be $18 to $20 an hour, well above the legal minimum of $13.50 an hour.

This would put about 740,000 people below the level of a living wage, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Researcher Charles Waldegrave said a living wage would allow people to have a computer at home, to afford to send their children on a school camp while paying for basic necessities.

Unions are expected to target large employers like councils and universities as they seek to raise wages to the minimum level.

About 45,000 low-paid staff had their wages lifted after a similar campaign in London.