MEDIA RELEASE: Mission Possible - Rest Home Workers Take Action
Workers at Mission Bay Rest Home are walking out the door tomorrow to get back the $12.55 an hour minimum rate they won just two weeks ago.
Owner David Choi received thousands of dollars in Government funding for increased wages in July 2007, but the workers didn't see a cent until last month, says the Service and Food Workers Union.
Two weeks ago, Mr Choi finally passed on the Government funding to his workers at Mission Bay Rest Home.
SFWU delegate Karlena Misieupe says members lobbied the Auckland District Health Board last month and they think this helped Mr Choi decide to do the right thing.
Within just a few days, Mr Choi promised to pay out the correct funding. The workers got backpay and a new rate of $12.55/hr in their next pay.
Now he seems to have changed his mind. The Mission Bay workers received $0.00 in their payslips today.
"When we got our pay two weeks ago, we were stoked!" Ms Misieupe says. "But when we checked our payslips this morning, we saw he had taken our money back! He didn't tell us anything - our money was just gone! We don't know why he didn't just leave it alone - we were happy!"
SFWU activist Mereana Marsh says the workers care a lot about their residents, but without a decent rate the workers won't be able to buy any food for their families or pay bills.
The Union says Mr Choi authorised his payroll to take the backpay from the workers. He reduced the rates to $11.78 and unlawfully deducted his previous backpay, leaving his workers with no pay.
Mission Bay SFWU members are determined to make things right and are taking strike action to get their money back. They are working with union members in rest homes around the country to win a multi-employer collective agreement with a minimum rate of $12.55 an hour.
"If we aren't paid enough, we'll lose staff and then who will look after our residents? We were really excited when we saw our pay, but now he's gone too far! It's not right to take money from our pay and not tell us or even talk to us," says Ms Marsh.
Mission Bay SFWU rest home members will be joining hundreds of other striking low-paid SFWU hospital members outside Spotless Services Head Office at 600 B Great South Rd from 11am - 1pm tomorrow, Wednesday, 2 April 2008.