Aprons plastered to bar windows in silent protest at neglect of casual & migrant hospitality workers
Jobless hospitality workers are writing their stories on aprons and sticking them to the windows of bars to protest being ignored in the Morrison Government’s Covid-19 stimulus package.
The social media and awareness raising campaign was launched by digital union Hospo Voice ahead of Parliament voting on the Government’s JobKeeper package on Wednesday. Casual and migrant hospitality workers who are facing homelessness have turned to the silent protest to ramp up the pressure on the government and draw attention to their desperation.
Early this morning the windows of several well-known bars in Fitzroy – a once-bustling hospitality strip – were plastered with aprons.
Hospo Voice will now take the protest nationwide, with fellow hospitality workers, diners, drinkers and cafe-goers being asked to hang aprons on their letterboxes and fences and post pictures of these to social media. Joining the protest allows all Australians to show their support for workers abandoned by the Morrison Government and their support for all hospitality workers. Protestors are using the hashtags #HangYourApronOut and #NoWorkerLeftBehind.
Stories told on aprons paint a picture of the devastation casual and migrant hospitality workers are currently facing, including:
o Being unable to pay rent and mortgages and even being made homeless
o Skipping meals so their children don’t go hungry
o Relying on charity to feed themselves and putting essentials on their credit card.
United Workers Union, and its hospitality arm Hospo Voice, are calling for every person irrespective of their citizenship or visa status or how long they’ve been a casual worker, to be covered by the Job Keeper package.
More than 1.7million workers on temporary visas are also excluded from all government income support and Medicare, and many of them perform critical roles in the hospitality industry.
Many migrant workers cannot return home because borders are closed, they have partners and children in Australia, or because the coronavirus pandemic has meant it is not safe to return to dozens of overseas countries.
Tim Kennedy, National Secretary of United Workers Union says, “COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, neither should the Government’s JobKeeper package or any other income support program. It must extend to all workers, no one should be left behind.”
Grace Dowling, a 24 year-old casual hospitality worker has worked at a bar in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy for less than 12 months and is excluded from the JobKeeper payment. Grace contributed one of the stories on the aprons, which reads, “Since when did a person have to work somewhere for 12 months before they deserve food on the table?”
Grace says about her participation, “The stories were heartbreaking. I was really moved by the migrant workers speaking out about how they felt abandoned. Many of these workers can’t return to their own countries because the borders are closed, or it’s just too unsafe or because their lives are here now. I feel like it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure no worker is left behind.”
Worker stories painted on aprons and stuck to the Fitzroy bars this morning were collected via Hospo Voice’s Covid-19 website ilostmyhosposhift.com.au and include:
“Unable to work. I am entirely out of money. My rent is due in three weeks. My parents are sending food or I wouldn’t be able to eat.” – Tori, a casual bartender
“I am unemployed. I am an international student. I have no income and no one who financially supports me. I need financial aid for all my basic daily expenses.” – Maria, a waitress on a temporary visa.
“I have gone from 40 per week to 0 hours. I was saving for a partnership visa. This has literally changed my whole life plan.” – Janis, a bartender on a temporary visa.
“I’m terrified. I’ve been paid for the last time and I have a mortgage, car loan, credit cards, phone bill, power bill, strata fees, and council rates.” – Jayne, a maître d.
“I don’t have any job. I need to pay rent, school fees & food. I don’t have any support and I can’t go back to my country.” – Luisa, a cook on temporary visa.
“I am so stressed and scared. I have got nowhere to get help. I have been paying tax for over two years.” – Nil, Front of house on temporary visa.
“I’m going without meals so that I can ensure my 4 kids have something to eat. My anxiety is sky high.” – Joanne, clubs worker
Media outlets will find a photo and video gallery of aprons here.
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