2 August 2005
Historical Day For National Distrubution Union
“An historical day for our union,” crowed a triumphant Mike Jackson, national secretary of the National Distribution Union, as he announced today both a significant pay increase and the merging of three union agreements into a single collective for union members working at Countdown, Foodtown and Woolworths supermarkets.
The deal was forged with owners Progressive Enterprises and affects nearly 4000 workers at 160 stores nation-wide.
“It’s the biggest agreement covering that many workers within one company in New Zealand,” said Jackson, “and one of the best deals I’ve overseen in my nine years as national secretary.
“What’s more we’ve won what’s called a no-pass-on clause which means non-union workers won’t get the pay rise of 60c an hour across the board, unless they pay our union a bargaining fee.” With another 16,000 workers employed by the three supermarket chains, needless to say the union phones are ringing.
Jackson paid tribute to the hard work put in by delegates, organisers and office staff but paid Retail Secretary Jude Attenberger special tribute for her hard work at the bargaining table,
Said Attenberger: “The employers started off saying how hell would freeze over before they agreed to a three-into-one deal!
“So we planned on a five-year campaign to win them over – and here we’ve done it in three. From their point of view though, I suppose it makes the admin side easier.”
Attenberger said the result could not have been achieved without the commitment of shop floor delegates who helped ensure a good line of communication between workers and the union’s negotiators.
It’s been a double whammy for Jackson because just last week - along with the Engineers Union - he completed negotiations with Progressive Enterprises to amalgamate four agreements into one giving distribution workers a minimum pay increase of five percent with a significant catch-up for the South Island which has in the past flagged behind North Island workers.
Auckland workers have seen a pay increase of five per cent with some added increases in their site allowances.
Both settlements are in line with the union’s policy to consolidate the number of agreements and strengthen membership.