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'They need to do the right thing' - Essential workers call on Government to pay them living wage

Cleaners and security guards were among those who stepped up and worked through the Covid-19 lockdown, and now they're asking the Government to step up and honour its 2017 promise of a living wage for them.

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Rose Kavapalu works 65 hours a week at two jobs and still struggles to make ends meet. Source: 1 NEWS

Rose Kavapalu works 65 hours a week at two jobs but she still struggles to make ends meet.

Unable to afford both rent and to feed her family, the Auckland cleaner at Ōtāhuhu Police Station and St Cuthbert College has had to move her family back to her parents' house - and she's not the only one.

But today is International Justice Day for cleaners and security guards. To honour the day, cleaners and security guards will upload videos to Facebook demanding the Government live up to its promise of a living wage.

This morning, Ms Kavapalu told TVNZ1's Breakfast that on a typical day she wakes early to get her family members, who have serious health conditions, to any appointments they may have, then she starts work at the police station at about 9am. She won't return home until 11.30pm.

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For her police station work, for which she is contracted by the Government, Ms Kavapalu is paid minimum wage - $18.90. Despite her 15 years service to the job, she only gets a pay rise when minimum wage goes up.

"If it's only rent only, I think I'd be able to [afford it] but food, petrol, health with my medicine and everything, something has to drop," she said.

Ms Kavapalu was joined on Breakfast by living wage campaigner and E tū organiser Fala Haulangi, who said the Government talks about the wellbeing of people, but if they really care about the wellbeing of the nation's lowest paid workers, now is the time to honour their promise and deliver the living wage to them.

"They're really concerned about the wellbeing of these workers, their lowest paid workers in Government? Please walk the talk and stop dragging your feet," Ms Haulangi said, adding that she was getting impatient and angry.

"It's not right."

Ms Haulangi praised the Prime Minister for her work around Covid-19 in New Zealand and for thanking essential workers, including Ms Kavapaulu. However she added, "Jacinda, thank you won't put food on the table, it won't pay Rose her rent.

"These people were risking their lives and their families as well. Rose, she looks after two elderly parents and the husband is not well as well, but she risked her life for us to clean.

"They [the Government] need to do the right thing by Rose and our security guards as well."

Later on Breakfast this morning, Jacinda Ardern said the Government was playing "a lot of catch up" following underfunding from the last Government, but that they were working through lifting wages.