Kura Leka is an E tū delegate and was part of the team that won the first collective agreement at the cleaning company she works for, before joining the fight to win Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs). She lives with her husband and seven tamariki in Auckland.
Tell us about your background.
I’m from Wainui Bay in the far north. My iwi is Ngā Puhi. When we were young, Mum and Dad used to live up there, but most of the jobs were orchard jobs, picking fruit. Mum and Dad wanted something different, so they came to live in Auckland. We go home every Christmas to spend quality time with the rest of the family as most of them still live up there.
How did you get into cleaning as a job?
My grandfather and nan were part of the cleaning company that I work at now. They helped establish it and made it really good. Even when I was a kid, I used to go with them and help them. They served for the company, I’d say, pretty much all my life.
How did you come to be part of E tū?
I felt like we were doing so much work in our eight hours at a rate that wasn’t suitable for people with big families. The struggle is so real, with the cost of everything that’s gone up so high. We should fight for what we need, and those who are fighting in silence.
What inspired you to join the fight for Fair Pay Agreements?
It’s really good that FPAs have now passed. We really need that in our communities, especially for any contract jobs and stuff like that. Many companies don’t follow rules, like guidelines around PPE gear. The health and safety is so poor. Many companies also don’t follow up with workers around health and safety. For example, making sure that we aren’t cleaning over a certain height.
What do you get up to in your time off?
Church is a big part of my life, and I’m currently a Sunday school teacher at my church.
“We should fight for what we need, and those who are fighting in silence.”
What’s one thing that members would be surprised to learn about you?
A few years ago, I started up my own small business. I do custom printing, making business cards, stickers, and other stuff. I have still gone back to work cleaning though, as sitting in front of the computer all day gets hōhā. So physically and mentally I wanted to think of my health.
What would you say to other members who work in cleaning and want to get an FPA?
My message would be: Don’t wait – go and sign up for the FPA, and go hard. Go for gold! Live like there’s no tomorrow.