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MIQ ‘soldier’ on frontlines of Covid battle among two-thirds of hotel workers earning under living wage

Two-thirds of hotel employees working on the frontlines at managed isolation and quarantine facilities are earning less than the living wage.

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Two-thirds of hotel employees working on the frontlines at managed isolation and quarantine facilities are earning less than the living wage. Source: Breakfast

Hotel housekeeper Mel Jones says a bus driver who takes her to work says she’s a “soldier” on the frontlines but earning less than the living wage of $22 an hour doesn’t reflect the importance of her work, nor the risks she takes.

“I often catch the bus to work and I have had a bus driver tell me that he feels honoured to take me to work because I’m a soldier and he’s taking me to the frontlines,” Jones said.

“That really put it in perspective for me because we are fighting an enemy.

“Myself and others at MIQ have made a commitment to keep the virus out of the community.”

Jones says she works 30 hours a week cleaning and delivering meals to those in managed isolation but she has just $70 left after paying rent.

“I really need kindness and compensation for what I do,” Jones said.

Unite Union’s John Croker said Accor staff and those at the Jet Park facility had recently began getting the living wage, meaning a third of workers at MIQ facilities earned $22 an hour.

The remaining two-thirds earned close to the minimum wage of $20 an hour.

“They’ve been under these Government contracts for months now. We don’t have exact details but we understand they’re well compensated and, look, Accor has show that they can so I don’t see any reason why the other operators can’t match that,” Croker said.

“If the Government needs to chip in a few bucks, I think it can do that. I think they need to make it conditional to maintain these contracts and they need to come out and say it publicly that they’re going to do this.

“It’s kind words and these workers need more than that.”