Mareta’s story

Mareta Sinototi’s story: Living on the minimum wage. 

Hello. My name is Mareta Sinototi. I am a mother and a grandmother. I work as a cleaner for the Government, and I am not paid the Living Wage.

At the moment I’m working full time for 8 hours a day, plus Saturdays. I work 44 hours a week. I get paid $15.75 an hour, the minimum wage.  I end up with around $600 dollars a week, and after my power and rent it I am left with about $150 for everything.

My family survived the past few years with me working two jobs, a day job and a night job.  I never saw my kids because when I left I came home, they were asleep. I worked hard because I felt sorry for my children and my family and we needed to pay the rent. It was a very stressful time.

Now I have a full-time day job and my husband has his pension and my son works so we all help each other and help to pay the bills. But, sometimes I feel like there is not enough money. The cost of living is too expensive now, everything is money. At my house we have a fireplace, but it’s too hard to get firewood. I spend 70 dollars every week for a train ticket and a bus card. It’s so expensive.

The Wellington City Council passed the Living Wage for its cleaners, so I think the Government should do the same. If we all had the Living Wage, people would not work two jobs because they would not need to. If we are just being paid the minimum wage, we need to work more hours because we can’t survive off 40 hours a week.

In 2012 when I was working at Parliament, MPs from the Green and Labour party came and cleaned with us one night. They found out it is not an easy job. They even told us that night. It’s hard to clean the toilets, empty rubbish bins, put in the bin liners. Since 2012 we have been talking about the Government supporting the Living Wage. But it never happened. It’s great what has happened at the Wellington City Council! But we want to see the Government do the same – for all the cleaners employed by the government.

If I had the living wage, I could have a normal life. We could buy our children sports clothing, warm up the house, buy our family some warm clothes and shoes for winter. Especially in winter. If we had more money we could take the kids and the family for a trip out of the house, maybe go to a restaurant or take the kids out. Something like that. Take them for a train ride.

It’s really important for us to stand together and fight for this. I am fighting for everyone. I am fighting for my children. At least if it doesn’t happen in my time, it will happen in my kids lifetime.

I have battled for this for many years. I will not give up. We work very hard. We deserve a wage which supports a normal life. We deserve the Living Wage.

Thank you.