Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 4 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1132..
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May Day rally
MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (5.58): I rise tonight to speak on a matter of great importance—the ongoing work of Australian unionists to protect a belief central to our national identity, that every Australian should be entitled to a fair day's wage for a fair day's work. Over the weekend I joined hundreds of other Canberrans on the steps of Old Parliament House to mark May Day, a day on which everyday workers come together to share stories about how they are fighting for a fair go.
I always love May Day events because they are a great opportunity to hear from people in our community, not just about the things that make their lives difficult, unsafe and sometimes downright life threatening, but also about what they are doing to resolve these issues.
This year, amongst the teachers, construction workers, security guards, community sector workers, lawyers, waitresses, cleaners, childcare workers, plumbers, public servants and nurses, one message was clear: the current Liberal federal government is not doing the right thing by ordinary working Australians. I could give a laundry list of the cuts members of our community feel are looming over their livelihoods—the lurking threats causing fear and uncertainty—but I think it is much more powerful for people to speak for themselves. So I would like to read a speech given by one of the workers on the day:
My name is Christine Wagland and I have been a government contract cleaner for 30 years.
For as long as I can remember we have been fighting for recognition of cleaners and cleaners jobs. We finally got there with CleanStart and the government equivalent of Fairwork principles.
A benchmark, a standard that gives stability to the industry and recognizes and rewards best practice. A win for both the contractor and the cleaner.
It is transparent and accountable contracting that gives respect and value to cleaners jobs. It offers real wage increases, reasonable workloads, proper training in equipment chemicals and safety and most importantly, job security.
Clean Start was a long fought for and negotiated win that bought business and workers together. Then along comes a liberal government and Eric Abetz who calls me and all the other cleaners in government buildings across Australia "a bit of red tape".
It is very hard not to take it personally. I have never been punched in the gut but I am pretty sure I know what it feels like. It feels like the federal liberal government is saying "How dare I think that because I do a dirty job that I deserve to be paid more than a shitty wage".
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