Campaigning for living wage reform – ground reports

Unite union has launched a campaign in workplaces and communities for a national referendum on the issue of a $15 minimum wage. In this early stage of the campaign, Workers Party activists and other leftists are hitting the streets and public events to help gather the signatures to force the referendum. Here are some interesting comments, reports, and examples from the campaign on the ground.

Wellington

Workers Party member Heleyni Pratley took the Unite Living Wage petition around eight central Wellington workplaces last Sunday evening. She visited Farmers, Subway, New World, Time Out, Hoyts, Starmart, City Stop, Hallensteins and Glassons. The petition was popular among most workers and several of them were very enthusiastic about it. Fifty signatures were collected. Only 2 staff who were approached didn’t want to sign the petition. Some of the employees on unorganised sites had their interest in unionism prompted by the Unite petition. They asked about how they could get some representation on their job. Heleyni is going to return to the keener signatories to get them going with their own petition kits, to turn them into collectors. Unite volunteers will be looking to repeat this Sunday evening visit process in other areas.

‘Queensgate, Wednesday the 23rd at 12pm. I’ll be there just before noon. Anyone else who can make it please come on out.’

‘Newtown fair At: carpark, St. Annes Church, Emmet St Newtown, on Saturday 27th June Brass Razoo is playing from 12.30 as an attention grabber for the Unite petition.’

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The Tramways union let me address a Lower Hutt meeting, which was good and netted a lot of signatures and they will let me address their Wellington stopwork when it comes. The Wellingotn posties have taken 13 petition kits, one for each delegate; I am confident I will get most of those back, filled up. Maritime Union organisers have said that they have got the petition out to all their sites.

Christchurch

The Workers’ Rights Campaign went to collect $15 minimum wage campaign signatures at the All Blacks vs. Italy game tonight. Ten people went along. Coming back, Warren tallied up 14 full sheets (140 signatures) and there would have been at least another 20 on incomplete sheets which he didn’t gather in. That was from 7 of us – the WP and Alliance people because we went back as a group. Kelly put the rest of us in the shade by collecting 45 herself. Josh managed to score a free seat at the game in a corporate box, courtesy of someone who didn’t even sign the
petition!

At rugby games there are always quite a lot of bosses, so they wouldn’t sign of course. One of us approached a group which turned out to be a boss shouting at his staff. The workers looked interested in the petition until the boss told them if he had to pay them $15 an hour he couldn’t afford to shout them to the game. Of course if they got $15 per hour they could buy their own ticket every week and still have money left over but in this case the boss’s word was final…

One thing I discovered was that a lot of the people queuing up for the game were tourists – not just Italians, but Americans, British, Irish etc. Still it wasn’t a bad effort all told. And Paul H managed to get the staff at the cafe to sign when we went for coffee afterwards!

‘It was freezing’.

Auckland

Saturday, June 21 – Workers Party activists collected around 100 signatures for Unite’s campaign for a hike in the Minimum Wage at Auckland’s Otara Flea Market. A further 30 signatures were also collected outside Westcity mall, Henderson. WP has had an ongoing presence at both ot these places which has included campaigning against the 90-day probationary employment legislation. Many of the signers of the $15 minimum wage petition remarked how they would personally benefit from raising the rate to $15 per hour – which would result in a pay increase for some 450,000 workers in New Zealand. It was an encouraging start to the year-long campaign to get the 300,000 signatures necessary to force a referendum on the issue.

Saturday, June 27- Socialist Aotearoa and Unite activists made use of a busy morning in the central city and gathered hundreds of signatures on K-road.

A cinema attendent has started collecting signatures from movie-goers at the ticketing desk.

A fast-food worker, and member of WP, is planning a regular stall at the mall he works in, where he knows a lot of regular shoppers.

Download the petition at http://www.unite.org.nz/ Get your workplace to sign it and send it in to Freepost UNITE, PO Box 7175, Wellesley Street Auckland 1141.

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