Anti Poverty Demonstrators declare CBD building “GRIME SCENE”
Anti Poverty Day protesters declared the IAG building in Auckland’s CBD a “GRIME SCENE” on International Anti Poverty Day yesterday.
Led by Sione's Wedding star Oscar Kightley, a large crowd of protesters called on Total Property Services, the cleaning contractor in the IAG building, to become a responsible contractor and take steps to address the poverty wages, poor hours and bad conditions in the cleaning industry by adopting the SFWU cleaning union’s “Clean Start” principles for the industry.
Standing underneath a “Warning: Poverty Kills” sign, Knightly condemned the low wages that were forcing Pacific Island workers into poverty.
“We’re not asking for much,” said Kightley
“We’re only asking for enough to feed our families and have decent lives.”
“That’s why we’re here on Anti Poverty Day – the whole world is watching, and we should be ashamed that people are treated this way in New Zealand,” said Kightley.
Pacific Island church minister and community leader Reverend Mua Strickson Pua declared the treatment of cleaners ‘disgraceful’ and called on the Government to address the situation immediately.
“The Government must respond to poverty by increasing the minimum wage right now. How long must our low paid workers wait to be treated with dignity?” said the Reverend.
A prayer for the cleaners
Cleaners and their supporters gathered in Wellington outside Parliament where Father Patele Mareko, a Pacific Island Catholic Priest, opened the rally with a prayer, saying:
“We pray that our presence here is a powerful sign and reminder to the Government of the value of our work, and that we have families depending on us, depending on the fact that what we receive in return for our work will enable us to live with dignity and feel worthwhile.”
“Cleaning takes a lot out of you, and no one’s
putting much back in”
Cleaners Doreen Newberry and Phyllis Puia spoke to the crowd gathered saying:
“We have worked as cleaners for 40 years – ever since we started working”
“We receive no recognition of our service or experience, the workload has increased over the years, but we still get paid $10.95. Is that fair?”
“Cleaning work is hard – it takes a lot out of you and no one’s putting much back in”
NZ Council of Trade Unions President Ross Wilson added:
“You are making visible a group of workers who make an essential contribution to our economy and communities.”
“The NZCTU is pleased that religious and community leaders are joining with the Service and Food Workers Union, Nga Ringa Tota in the Clean Start campaign today, and I want to acknowledge their involvement.
“It’s really important that all members of the community get behind the campaign because the work you do affects us all – you are all members of families and communities, and you need secure work and a decent wage.”
Government supports Clean Start campaign
Senior Government Minister Ruth Dyson addressed the rally saying:
“The government is committed to getting rid of poverty in New Zealand and supports the Clean Start campaign.”
Minister Ruth Dyson said the Government would meet with SFWU Cleaners Union representatives to address the concerns of cleaners working in Government buildings and across the cleaning industry in New Zealand.