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Fighter for Low Wage Workers Dies

Fighter for Low Wage Workers Dies

Piripi Pokaitara-Wikiriwhi, a union organiser of low paid workers died in a motorcycle accident in Grey Lynn Saturday morning.

Piripi, also known as Philip Thompson, 29, was an organiser for low paid and minimum wage workers at Unite Union.

Police are still investigating the cause of the accident.

“Piripi represented an emerging leadership of workplace activists” said Matt McCarten, Unite Union president.

“He was young, Maori and staunch.

“We have lost an inspiring activist who was willing to stand up for himself and the rights of all workers.

“Due to his organising work amongst the working poor, there will be others willing to stand where he stood” he said.

Piripi had been organising the fast food industry and was preparing for a campaign for a fair minimum wage, the abolition of youth rates and for security of hours.

Despite the recent tragedy, three of Piripi’s co-organisers have decided to carry on with a solidarity trip to Australia to join in demonstrations against John Howard’s anti-union laws.

Joe Carolyn will continue Piripi’s work by taking his message across the ditch.

“The only way to honour the memory of Piripi, is to continue the fight for what he believed in” he said.

“We have lost someone who was fighting for a standard of living that workers in New Zealand have lost.

“Piripi would have told you, you can’t win by sitting down, you’ve got to fight on your feet.” he said.

Fast Food co-organiser Simon Oosterman remembers the time they both joined in the World Naked Bike Ride against oil dependency earlier this year.

“The first protest I ever went on with Piripi was the World Naked Bike Ride in Auckland” he said.

“The bike ride was in protest against oil dependency, and in particular to draw attention to the number of car related deaths on Auckland roads each year.

“We are not going to let him be just another statistic.”

The Unite office has been informed that Auckland trade unionists and activists are considering a public protest next week at the site of the accident.

A tangi/wake will be held at Unite Union at 6a Westernsprings Rd, Morningside in Auckland on Monday afternoon.

Those who want to pay respect for Piripi, can call the Unite office on 09 845 2132 for further information.


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