Union flooded with calls from worried workers after New Zealand earthquake

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Unite Union's Christchurch office has been flooded with phone calls and text messages from worried workers in post-earthquake Christchurch.

"Many workers at Christchurch's restaurants, cinemas, hotels and security  firms are worried that they will not be paid for the working days lost because of the earthquake. We are very worried that some employers will seek to withhold payment for work that employees were rostered to do over the weekend," said Unite's Christchurch organiser Matt Jones.
 
"Union members with young children have also been calling us concerned that their employer will force them to work before schools and childcare centres reopen after Wednesday." said Mr. Jones.
 
Staff at a local fast food outlet unanimously voted to return home once they were reminded of their rights at work on Saturday. Whilst the discussion took place the store was rocked by one of the numerous aftershocks the city has felt over the weekend. The Canterbury Medical Health Officer has advised locals to stay away from their workplaces unless they are deemed fit by structural engineers. Both the Health and Safety Act and the Civil Defence Act support this statement
 
"John Key will bail out property owners and big business using state cash but who will help out the thousands of low paid Christchurch workers who have lost jobs and incomes because of the quake? Key should provide instant cash relief to Christchurch's struggling working population."
 
"Precarious and casual workers face unemployment, bankruptcy and hard times in Christchurch. If New Zealand's large corporations and employers cut adrift the workers of Christchurch then the city will face a social disaster on top of this natural disaster," concluded Mr. Jones.

The news comes as the Treasury has announced that the earthquake is New Zealand’s most costly natural disaster at over four billion.

Al, an anarchist from Christchurch described the earthquake affecting his community and the wider city,  “We are all ok and our house stood up well. No damage. Lots of chimneys and brick walls down in our neighbourhood but on the whole our hood faired a lot better than other neighbourhoods. Some areas have had roads crack open, buildings collapse, no power and water that sort of thing. Areas of the CBD are still 'locked down', schools still closed and massive cleanup underway.”

WORDS: Sean Matthews