Strong show of opposition to low wages and cuts to work righ
Media Release: FIRST Union
Thursday 22 August 2013
Strong show of opposition to low wages and cuts to work rights
1500 workers have spoken out against low wages and cuts to their work rights at union meetings across Auckland this morning.
760 workers packed out the Manukau City Baptist Church at 8am this morning and 740 were at Mt Smart Stadium a short time ago, for FIRST Union member meetings discussing current wage bargaining, the living wage campaign and employment law changes.
Today’s meetings follow 44 other members’ meetings of FIRST Union, starting a month ago, which have now been attended by 4680 workers in total. 150 more are expected at a meeting in East Auckland this afternoon.
“The living wage movement has struck a real chord for workers at our meetings. It is shifting the debate from workers scraping by on the starvation minimum wage, to how we get to a living wage that enables people to more fully participate in their communities,” said Robert Reid, General Secretary, FIRST Union.
“Unions are part of the solution to our low wage crisis. One of the only mitigating factors against New Zealand’s widespread poverty wages is union collective bargaining.”
“Despite this, the government is putting more barriers in the way of workers coming together to improve their conditions. John Key has long stopped talking about closing the wage gap with Australia.”
“National’s employment law changes would also remove the right to a proper meal and rest break. Many of the people at today’s meetings work in high pressure retail stores, and already struggle to get their breaks on time.”
“Poverty exits in New Zealand only because we continue to tolerate it. The country has enough collective resource to stop families living in damp, cold houses, and children going to school without enough to eat.”
“A living wage, welfare that supports people in need not punishes them because of a lack of good jobs and more workers having access to collective bargaining are all part of the solution to poverty in New Zealand. The government might ignore this, but our members are in no doubt about what needs to be done to make New Zealand more equal,” Robert Reid said.