Waitemata Unite on the Government’s Welfare Reforms
On International Women’s Day, 8th March 2012
International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over 100 years to honour the contributions made to society by women.
To mark International Women’s Day 2012, the Waitemata Branch of the Unite! Union is calling all women’s work, both paid and unpaid, to be valued, appreciated and supported.
“We stand for the right of everyone to a living income, to spend time with our families and to participate in society.” said Janet Robin, President of the Branch.
Ms Robin said that although the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1972, women are still earning far less than men.
Women and children also make up the majority of those living in extreme poverty- about quarter to a third of all families.
‘These families are often subsisting on benefits that do not meet basic needs such as food, housing, and health. “We call for a living income for all workers and beneficiaries” said Ms Robin.
“Neither the National or the Labour governments have done anything to alleviate poverty in this country ” she said. “ In real terms, Benefit levels are at about half what they were, prior to the National Government’s 1991 Benefit cuts.”
“Labour and National have steadily eroded them ever since; with Labour abolishing the Special Benefit, and National abolishing the Training Incentive Allowance” she said. “This has prevented families getting the financial help they need, or being able to develop skills to find employment.”
Ms Robin said that it was important to recognise that mothering is work. “Caring for babies happens 24 hours a day, especially if the baby is breastfeeding” she said.
“Babies wake up throughout the night, and need attending to around the clock” she said.
“The early years of a child’s life are crucial for setting the blue print for healthy well adjusted adults” she said.
“Babies need to bond with their mothers” she said.
The Unite Waitemata Branch believes that the Government’s welfare reforms will cause harm to mothers and their babies.
“The government talks openly about using a “carrot” and “stick” approach to welfare”, she said.
“Few people realise that the Government expects single mothers of one year old babies, to be available for full time paid work, if they already have a child over fourteen” she said.
“Using a “stick “to hit babies is a pernicious and unethical form of social engineering, which will not work”
“Mothering is work and should be valued and supported by society”.
“Mothers are raising the future workers and tax payers who will support an increasingly elderly population.”
“Children are our taonga.”
“National's policies are short sighted and cruel. Keeping children in poverty and denying them their bonding with their mothers breaches the United Nations Rights of the Child.”
“Also, National's approach will not work when there are no jobs. When there are jobs, beneficiaries take them, if they fit their families' and health needs.”
National, on the other hand, has slashed jobs, slashed spending on childcare, and made tertiary education unaffordable.
”The corporate and the banks want to make us pay for their crisis”, which is why the National Government is trying to cut jobs, wages and benefits, and to privatise state assets.”
“They even want to privatise welfare so that the rich can make more profits out of the poor.”
“We don’t accept this.”
“It’s not our crisis. We didn’t create it, and we won’t pay for it.”
Waitemata Unite is holding a protest against the welfare cuts and the work testing of single parents, at 4pm, Thursday 8th March, on the motorway overbridge , corner of St Lukes Rd and Great North Rd, Auckland.
This includes all those on the DPB and Widow’s Benefits with children under 14.Those receiving Sole Parent Support will be expected to look for part-time work when their child is five years old and full-time when their child reaches the age of 14.
Those who have an additional child while on benefit will be exempted from work expectations for 12 months, in line with parental leave provisions. Work obligations will then revert to the age of the youngest child when the parent went on benefit.
For example, a beneficiary with a seven year old, who has another child, will return to a part-time work expectation when their newborn turns one. A sole parent of a fourteen year old who has another child will return to a full-time work expectation after one year.