Workers sign pledge to get voices heard
Nearly 100 Porirua retail and service workers pledged to fight poverty and inequality last Tuesday.
The FIRST Union meeting at Porirua Club brought together 96 workers from Porirua supermarkets, shops, banks, transport firms and other industries.
Their Decent Work discussion touched on four points: jobs for all, a living wage, secure work and safe work.
Upcoming employment law changes were a hot topic, and workers were concerned with the proposals, said meeting chair Sheryl Cadman, FIRST Union’s central region secretary.
‘‘The changes will remove the right to a proper meal and rest break. Many of the people at today’s meeting work in high- pressure retail stores and already struggle to get their breaks on time, or even at all.
‘‘If the law is passed, we could be back to the ridiculous situation where a retail worker starts work at 9am and are told to take a tea break at 9.30am and then that’s it for the rest of the day.’’
There was also strong opposition to a proposal to allow employers to walk away from collective bargaining, instead of being obliged to conclude negotiations in good faith as they are now, Ms Cadman said.
Low wages for Porirua workers were also discussed.
Many workers at the meeting worked for retail chains which were offering very low pay increases in negotiations, Ms Cadman said.
‘‘Low inflation is being used as a reason but low waged workers are hit harder than others by price rises in areas like petrol, food and housing because these items make up a much larger part of their weekly expenses.’’
Workers signed pledge sheets at the end of their meeting, committing to the campaign for decent work and against poverty and inequality.