E tū members in cleaning and security are welcoming the Government’s call for consultation on the development of Fair Pay Agreements.
The ‘Designing a Fair Pay Agreements System’ discussion paper, released today, proposes many solutions to exploitation of whole sectors of low paid workers.
E tū cleaner Mele Peaua says that a Fair Pay Agreement could be an answer to low pay and conditions in the cleaning industry.
“I think we need a Fair Pay Agreement for cleaners to fix the problems of low pay and not enough hours of work,” Mele says.
“Cleaning companies undercut each other because they compete for contracts on the lowest cost. That means we suffer.
“When cleaning contracts change, we have to start all over again. We lose our hours of work. It happens all the time. With Fair Pay Agreements, we would be protected from these constant changes.
“We have to draw a line, so that we can have fair standards for everyone.
“It’s not just about the pay. We also have a race to the bottom on conditions. If I have to spend all my minimum sick leave on looking after my sick kids, then when I get sick, I have no choice but to take unpaid leave. So, it’s about pay, it’s about leave, it’s about job security, and it’s about our lives as working people.”
Mele says that all Kiwis will benefit from addressing poor pay and conditions for the most vulnerable.
“If we have a happy family, we’ll have a happy community. If we have a happy community, we’ll have a better country. It’s about making life better for all New Zealanders. So, we need our Government to take the lead for all of our people.”
E tū security guard Rosey Ngakopu is looking forward to a Fair Pay Agreement to give her more money in her pocket, allowing her to spend more time with her son.
“I want to be more present in my son’s life. Our children are our future,” Rosey says.
“I don’t get enough time to help my son with his studies or make sure he’s doing ok because of the hours and days I have to work just to keep our heads above water.
“Even the time I do spend with him, sometimes I’m not really present with him, because I’m so tired from being on my feet for a 12-hour shifts. And he notices that. It sucks, to tell you the truth.
“Security guards feel undervalued because the mahi we do is not reflected in our pay, due to the undercutting in the competitive market in the security industry.”
“A Fair Pay Agreement will be a game-changer. And not just for me, or my colleagues, but for all security guards in the industry.”
E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says that E tū is looking forward to the consultation process.
“E tū is taking the time to carefully consider the questions and we will be putting together a comprehensive response on behalf of our members,” Annie says.
“However, there are some questions where the right answers for workers are very clear.
“E tū does not support proposed regional variations in pay rates. The Living Wage experience shows that decent wages are viable wherever you are and no matter what the size of the business.
“We think that 10% of the workforce or 1,000 workers should be able to trigger bargaining for a Fair Pay Agreement, whichever is fewer, because that represents a significant portion of a workforce and anything higher would be an unnecessary barrier. This was the Working Group’s recommendation and one we support.”