The PM gets paid $400,000 a year. That’s $45 an hour whether he’s in Hawai’i, talking about his cat, or sleeping. His cleaner, Sosefina Masoe, gets $13.50 an hour. Key has rejected calls to lift the minimum wage for workers like her to $15 an hour. Instead, the Right’s attack dogs have been trained on Mascoe for daring to speak out.
She should have gone and gotten a qualification, say the righties. Yeah, because that option is open to everyone, especially immigrants. And, if we all had Phds, wouldn’t we still need cleaners? And wouldn’t what those Phd cleaners get in return for their labour and time still be a matter of basic fairness?
She shouldn’t have had so many kids, say the righties. I hate this argument. In their view of the world, reproduction is a right only for the well to do. Besides, Masoe isn’t just raising her own kids but four grandchildren too. I suppose the right is happy to see kids raised in poverty and all the costs to society (health, education, justice, lower productivity) that implies.
She gets Working for Families, they say. And, with eight kids to look after, it brings the family’s total income to $70,000 by the Right’s count. I can’t confirm whether that’s true but I would point out that is a net income of $55,000, or $6,000 per member of the household to live on for a year. Key spent that much on his invisible greenstone suit for the royal wedding.
Masoe and other minimum wage workers aren’t asking for the world. We’re just asking for a third of John Key’s wage. A bare minimum living income, a $50 a week pay increase. Nothing compared to the thousand dollar a week tax cuts the rich have had.
In a country as wealthy as this, which produces $90,000 of economic wealth per worker per year, we can afford to give every worker (and, indeed, everyone) a living income. It just requires a little less greed from those at the top.