Tipping culture is not welcome in NZ

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett’s comments about tipping have been in the news and have sparked off a series of furious discussions about tipping in Aotearoa.

From our point of view, tipping every time you’re provided a service is a bizarre American custom that we don’t want to bring here. Although Minister Bennett has said that she doesn’t want to make tipping mandatory in New Zealand, it’s important to note that tipping is not technically mandatory in a lot of places overseas either, it’s just a social custom that’s been allowed to creep up and take root.

The main problem with normalising tipping as an everyday thing is that over time, it becomes an excuse to pay people lower hourly wages because it’s assumed that they’ll top up their wages with tips.

We don’t want tipping to become a social custom for a variety of reasons. Overseas studies have shown only a weak correlation between tip size and service quality. We also know that tipping reflects existing biases of society, with non-white and female servers getting a lot less in tips than their white and male counterparts. And last but not least, servers and their families have to deal with uncertainty about how much money they’re going to make. Why on Earth would we want to introduce a tipping culture when the evidence shows it will lead to discriminatory pay and insecure work?

Perhaps Bennett’s comments are not so surprising in the context of what National have done in their nine long years in power. Throughout this time they’ve taken away worker tea breaks, introduced discriminatory youth rates, brought in 90 day trials, undermined the ability of working people to organise for better pay and fair conditions and earlier this month voted against my colleague Green Party MP Jan Logie’s member’s bill that would ensure transparency in wages to help with pay equity.

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand stands for secure work, fair pay and decent conditions. We will make sure that working people get a fair go by promoting the living wage, repealing National’s changes and ensuring pay equity. It’s the right thing to do for low-wage workers struggling to pay increased rents and keep up with cost of living.

And we will keep on opposing National’s anti-worker agenda every step of the way.