South Island Foodstuffs supermarket workers protest for living wage after ‘bargaining’ for three years

Source: First Union
FIRST Union members at Pak’n’Save Richmond and New World City Centre in Dunedin are today protesting the lack of meaningful bargaining with the two Foodstuffs South Island supermarkets after waiting over three years to settle new collective agreements. Workers are taking limited industrial action after voting to wear stickers today that state "We deserve the living wage" to make the shopping public aware, FIRST Union said today.
FIRST Union Regional Secretary, Paul Watson, says that during three years of attempted bargaining, the Dunedin New World store has changed ownership but sadly nothing has changed in terms of how workers are being treated, with minimum pay and conditions and maximum profits remaining the name of the game:
"It’s time for these wealthy store owners to stop being miserable Grinches all year round and start paying their workers a decent wage," said Mr Watson.
"It’s disgraceful that these owners think it’s ok for workers to live off subsistence wages while they make substantial profits for years at a time and avoid the negotiating table."
"Consumers also need to start questioning why these store owners charge the same prices for supermarket products as in the North Island when South Island workers are paid so much less."
"For example, FIRST Union recently settled collective agreements with 5 Pak’n’Save stores in the North Island, offering average starting rates of above $19.50 per hour, with consistent rises to well above $21 by 2021."
"In contrast, Richmond Pak’n’Save is offering a printed rate of 0.05 cents above the minimum wage of $17.70, and Dunedin New World is offering much the same but with some possibility of earning up to 0.50 cents an hour extra, but only if performance standards are high enough," said Mr Watson.
"The difference between the situations is that not only are the South Island workers disadvantaged, but so are customers."
"Comparisons between North and South Islands stores show the same prices for food, but that doesn’t translate to the same wages for the workers – South Island Foodstuffs supermarkets are taking a greater margin because their wage costs are lower and profits higher."
"We encourage Richmond Pak'n'Save and Dunedin New World Centre City customers to support the supermarket workers by raising their concerns with management."