While directly employed non-essential Auckland Council staff are staying at home to save lives on 100% pay, some of their lowest paid colleagues are not so lucky.
Malia Lagi, a cleaner at an Auckland Council recreation centre that is currently closed, has taken a 20% pay cut, taking her pay for the hours she normally works to well below the minimum wage.
Malia usually has to work over 60 hours a week just to make ends meet.
With her partner also off work with just 80% of his wages, the lockdown is hitting them and their six kids very hard.
“I’m very worried that we’ll get behind on everything. Rent, power, water, and especially food – I want to buy healthy food like fruit and veges for my family my it’s too expensive now,” Malia says.
“I went to Mangere Pak’nSave yesterday and was in the queue for more than an hour. All the meat was gone except for the most expensive stuff, and I couldn’t afford that. So I had to leave with no meat, which my family was very sad about.
“Three of my kids are at uni. All they can do is study and eat. It’s really tough for the whole family.”
Malia attended Auckland Mayor Phil Goff’s election campaign launch last year and calls for him to intervene.
“At the Mayor’s campaign launch, he promised that he was going to pay the Living Wage to contracted cleaners like me. We’re still waiting for him to deliver that, and we need it, but in the meantime, we need our normal wages back.
“There’s no reason Auckland Council shouldn’t make sure their workers all get 100% of their wages during lockdown. Aucklanders are still paying our rates during this lockdown period. The money is there to pay us properly.”
E tū organiser Fala Haulangi says that hundreds of thousands of workers across New Zealand are in a similar position.
“When wages are already far too low, the 20% cut that many are facing is simply devastating,” Fala says.
“Every Kiwi is doing it tough in one way or another. But for those who already face hardships, the COVID-19 lockdown is making their lives extremely challenging.
“All employers need to take responsibility for all their workers, including those employed by contractors. E tū is calling for all employers to pay their workers 100%. For somewhere like Auckland Council to pass the cost of COVID-19 onto their lowest paid workers is ridiculous and unfair.
“Both as Malia’s employer and as Auckland’s mayor, Phil Goff needs to show leadership and fix this situation for all the families affected – he could change their lives overnight.”
For more info and comment:
Fala Haulangi, 027 204 6332