Mita Skipper no longer has a job or income to support his partner and their 12 children.
The ex-Auckland port worker marched yesterday with about 2000 others to protest against 292 port workers being made redundant without any given notice.
“I found out through Maori Television,” Skipper says, “They rang me for an interview on how it felt to be made redundant. That’s how I found out, through the media.”
Skipper has to support his five children from previous relationships as well as his partner, Ngaire Kelaher’s five children.
The pair also have two children together, the youngest aged five months.
“We’re just living one day at a time. The union is helping us with food vouchers and giving us food donations. They’re helping us pay some of our bills, but we’re suffering.”
Former Auckland port worker Iusi Tipelu described how difficult it had been trying to secure another job to feed his two sons aged two and 14, as well as meet mortgage payments.
“It’s so hard for me and my family, it’s so tight now. All of us here today, we’re just doing what we can to try and get our jobs back.”
Families who had no personal involvement with the port or the union also came to show their support for the workers.
Reece Autagauaia brought his four-month-old son down to march.
“It’s important to support unions. I’m trying to get my son in early, so one day he can stand up for his rights.”
Mana Party member Sue Bradford marched and described her worry for the families affected by the sacking.
“It’s terrible. These workers have families and have been forced into this position by a company bent on an agenda just to make a profit.”
Other familiar faces that leant their support were family man and Labour leader David Shearer who dodged questions about the noted absence of Auckland mayor Len Brown.
“We’re here to support the workers and their families. We stand up for fair decent working conditions. It’s as simple as that,” Shearer said.
The 292 workers who were informed that they had been made redundant through various forms of media, say they have still not received official confirmation that they have lost their jobs.
A former port worker who did not want to be identified said he’d discovered he’d been made redundant when he heard it on the radio.
“We’ve had no letters, no notifications, nothing in writing, but we’ll fight it. We’ll fight it to the bitter end.”
Bradford urged the mayor and the council to take a strong stand in supporting the union.
“We need a socially responsible port that doesn’t destroy families’ lives.”