Source: First Union
Workers at Pak’n’Save Richmond are taking strike action after five years of fruitless negotiation has failed to result in a Collective Agreement or a living wage, and FIRST Union says the lengthy impasse highlights the difficulty for supermarket workers in negotiating fair wages and conditions with the South Island Foodstuffs Cooperative when compared to their North Island counterparts.
“Members at Richmond Pak’n’Save have been in negotiation for their first Collective Agreement for five years, which is an absurd amount of time to be underpaid, undervalued, and uncertain about your entitlements and conditions,” said Ross Lampert, FIRST Union organiser for retail.
“Today, FIRST Union members will be withdrawing their labour and walking off at different intervals throughout the day and engaging with customers about why they’re on strike.”
Pak’n’Save stores are individually owned as franchises but answer to the South Island Foodstuffs co-operative, which is distinct from its operations in the North Island. The union has negotiated a considerable number of Collective Agreements with Foodstuffs stores in the North Island which are re-negotiated on an annual basis.
“At a time when supermarkets are making huge profits, it’s really shameful that the Richmond Pak’n’Save owners are continuing to fight against progress and trying to stall and delay bargaining at their employees’ expense,” said Mr Lampert.
“These are essential workers who will no doubt be called on again if the country returns to lockdown, and they deserve a real agreement that will protect them and ensure that they’re paid fairly when New Zealand needs them more than ever.”
“As it stands, the company’s most recent offer manages to come in below many workers’ current pay rates, most of which are already below a living wage.”
Jenny Wells is a FIRST Union delegate who has worked at Pak’n’Save in Richmond for seventeen years, and she says a living wage would make a significant difference to hers and her colleagues’ lives.
“It’s nice hearing how valued you are as an essential worker lately, but we’ve not seen anything to back that sentiment up from Foodstuffs in the South Island yet,” said Mrs Wells.
“It has been incredibly frustrating to wait so long but I and my colleagues are confident that the public support us and we deserve a fair deal.”
Strike action at Pak’n’Save Richmond will begin at 11:00am with a staff walkout.
Where: Pak’n’Save Richmond, Richmond Mall, Cnr Queen, Croucher and Talbot Street, Richmond
When: Friday October 2nd from 11:00am