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Thousands rally against Government wage freeze

27 November 2009

For immediate release

Thousands rally against Government wage freeze
Thousands of low paid workers took the streets of New Zealand from Kaitaia to Invercargill today.
Service & Food Workers Union members joined with PSA and NZEI members to protest against the National Government’s wage freeze at marches and rallies in 27 towns and cities throughout the country. The rallies passed a resolution calling on the National Government to end its wage freeze on low-paid state-funded workers’ pay.
More than 1000 workers converged from two directions in Auckland’s Queen St to meet up for a rally in the Methodist Mission hall where they were addressed by Labour-leader Phil Goff.
He told them he supported their fight for a fair pay rise. He slammed Bill English for threatening to freeze state-sector pay for five years.
“A wage freeze while prices are going up, is the same as a pay cut,” Goff said.
Nearly 1000 Wellington SFWU members and others swarmed over the Parliament grounds to make their opposition to the Government’s unfair “wage restraint” policy.
Five hundred gathered in Christchurch and four hundred in Dunedin to deliver their message of opposition to the government’s wage freeze.  Three hundred and fifty rallied in Hamilton and more than 100 in Rotorua, with Gisborne reaching similar figures at their rally. Elsewhere large numbers turned out: Whanganui (230), Palmerston North (200), Timaru (200), Invercargill (150).
In Hawera 60 workers marched to the office of local MP Chester Borrows and demanded he listen to them. The workers asked Chester Borrows and the Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson to lift the wage freeze, and a number of union members asked them questions. One community services member who works for IHC told Chester Borrows that as a solo parent he can barely survive on the wages he is paid.

Speakers from the Labour Party and the Green Party addressed rallies around the country, and were well received. 

“Low-paid workers are standing up and fighting back,” SFWU National President Barbara Wyeth told Auckland members. “I am extremely proud of our members’ fighting spirit. They will not, and should not, have to accept the equivalent of a one-week’s pay cut over a year which is what a zero per cent pay offer really means.”
She said it was time for the country’s wealth to be shared more fairly.
“Why should the lowest paid always have to bear the brunt of crises that are not of their making?” said Wyeth.

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