Work­ers sign pledge to get voices heard

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

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.

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