I joined my union to fight back

My name is Zara and I work as a waitress in a small restaurant.

I love my job; the people I work for are great as are my co-workers and our customers. It’s hard work and the hours are unsociable, but I love it.

I have been working in the hospitality industry on and off (mostly on) since I was a teenager. That gives me almost twenty years of experience.

In that time I have done every kind of job and had every kind of boss – from great to terrible! Thankfully at the moment work is great.

This week I joined a union for the first time in my life. I joined because, with the recent proposed cuts to penalty rates, I am concerned that no one else is in our corner.

Politicians and bosses (who earn much more than we do) have decided that it is the lowest paid of us (mostly women in my industry) who deserve to suffer in the name of “prosperity”.

I joined for all of us who work two or three jobs to make ends meet as, one job doesn’t cut it in a city that has some of the highest rents in the world.

I joined for the people getting paid very little to work very hard.

The proposed cuts don’t affect me personally … YET. But if successful these will obviously open the door for more cuts to come.

This week another member of my union, Margarita, travelled to Canberra to talk to politicians about why penalty rates matter.

Jo Schofield and Margarita in Canberra

Margarita is facing a pay cut of around $2,000. So she went with her union to Canberra to confront the pollies who are refusing to step in and fix this. And in doing so, she focused national media attention on this issue.

While $2,000 may not seem like much to someone on a high income - I’m looking at you Mr Turnbull - to me it is literally the difference between life and debt.

I have university and caring responsibilities that my penalty rates help pay for. Like Margarita, I need my penalty rates to survive.

What’s more – I don’t want to leave the industry I have worked in for most of my working life. I love my job, I just want to get paid what my time is worth.

We need someone in our corner, to help us organise and to stand up for our rights and that is what a union is.

So join Margarita and I, and join your union today.

Right now we have an opportunity to stop these cuts in their tracks but we need to be strong and united in order to do it.

Hospitality worker and proud union member 

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