Hospitality workers aprons

Bar workers hang out their aprons in national protest

April 7, 2020
By Alana House

Hospitality workers are writing their COVID-19 stories on aprons and sticking them to bar windows in protest at being ignored by the Government’s stimulus package.

The campaign was launched by the Hospo Voice union ahead of Parliament voting on the Government’s JobKeeper package on Wednesday.

Casual and migrant hospitality workers who are facing homelessness are hoping to put pressure on the government and draw attention to their plight.

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, using the hashtags #HangYourApronOut and #NoWorkerLeftBehind.

Hospitality workers aprons

Stories told on aprons reveal the tough situation casual and migrant hospitality workers are currently facing, including:

  • Being unable to pay rent and mortgages and even being made homeless
  •  Skipping meals so their children don’t go hungry
  • 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, said: “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, is excluded from the JobKeeper payment. She 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?”

Other messages 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 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’m going without meals so that I can ensure my four kids have something to eat. My anxiety is sky high.” –  Joanne, clubs worker

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