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Issue #1921      June 29, 2020

United Workers’ Union Statement

Inequitable decision for low paid workers

Statement from Joanne Schofield, National President, United Workers’ Union.

Many United Workers Union members are award-reliant and are impacted by the minimum wage decision. Many United Workers Union members are cleaners, security guards, early childhood educators, food services workers, farm workers, hospitality workers and aged and home care workers.

Many essential workers are also some of Australia’s lowest paid. Australia has been able to manage the public health crisis of COVID-19 because of the frontline workers we have all relied on.

Countless United Workers Union members have worked during the pandemic for less than they would have received under JobKeeper – and many are supporting families on their low wage.

Whilst this very modest rise will lead to some relief for the sectors eligible from 1st July, the staggered approach will lead to greater inequality across our workforces in this damaged economy.

We welcome the Fair Work Commission recognising our cleaners as essential service workers included in the first phase of the award rise, alongside early childhood educators and aged and home care workers. But it is a troubling decision for our security guard members, excluded until the second phase and our hospitality and food services members who will face a rising cost of living whilst excluded from any wage relief until 1st February 2021.

Minimum wage increases are not saved, they are spent in local businesses. Staggering the payments pulls spending out of the economy at a time when it is desperately needed.

Workers know we are in uncertain economic times, but it is not up to the lowest paid to carry the can for that – not when they are the ones out there working every day – and night – to keep us safe, and keeping so many sectors vital to the Australian economy functioning.”

Statement from Sofia Floros, award-reliant cleaner: “I’m very, very disappointed in this decision and my husband has lost his job.

“It’s nothing for workers on the Cleaning Services Award. We work very hard, and it’s very low pay. Those business people who say we should not get a pay rise, they should come and live in my shoes. Cleaners have bills, mortgages, groceries. The cost of vegetables has increased so much.

“We haven’t had the right amount of pay rise for years, we are invisible people that no one can see and no one thinks about what we are earning.

“Cleaners have kept everyone safe during coronavirus, all my colleagues are heroes, we deserved more than an extra 36 cents an hour for our essential work during this crisis.”

Note: The Cleaning Services Award base pay is currently $20.82 an hour, this will rise by 36c an hour from 1st July 2020.

Next article – Vulnerable workers will inevitably slide into skid-row

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