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Bunnings workers stop work over Aussie pay gap

National Distribution Union press release

Thursday 21 February 2008, 9.35am

Bunnings workers stop work over NZ$6 Aussie pay gap

Bunnings Warehouse workers around the country will stop work for two hours at 12 noon today over a $6 an hour starting rate pay gap with their Australian co-workers, says the National Distribution Union. (1)

But the DIY chain doesn't want branding at the stop works and has called a mufti day at some stores taking action.

Workers from several of the Auckland hardware stores will hold a rally at the company's head office at 78 Carbine Rd, Mt Wellington at 12.30pm.

In Wellington workers will meet Green MP Sue Bradford at the Beehive Theaterette at 12.20pm and deliver a message to Australian PM Kevin Rudd via the Australian Embassy.

Stop works are also being held in Whangarei, Whangamata, Hamilton, Whakatane, Gisbourne, Rotorua and Christchurch at 12.30pm, details below.

NDU national secretary Laila Harré says Kiwi workers at Bunnings, which is owned by Australia's richest company, Wesfarmers start on $12.00 an hour while their co-workers across the ditch start on a union rate of NZ$18.44 an hour which will increase to NZ$19 an hour in July.

"It's not as if Bunnings charge customers less here and their employees have a similar cost of living in both countries," she says. "This is the union wage gap - collective bargaining in Australia has kept wages reasonable, and that's why Bunnings workers have been joining our union in their hundreds."

"Bunnings has actively undermined workers organising for a livable wage with the National Distribution Union through bullying, bribes and tactics that are becoming increasingly bizarre." (2)

The company threatened staff with trespass and gave others monopoly boards when they took action last Christmas in protest at the company's 0% wage offer and refusal to include wage rates in a union agreement, she says.

"Today Bunnings is trying to bribe staff by offering free pizza for lunch during the stop work and have called a mufti day to try and keep their logo and brand out of the stop works and the public eye."

Following union action the company lifted the starting rate new minimum wage of $12 an hour two months early and gave some staff a small pay rise but denied it was related to the union. The majority of staff, including long serving workers received no pay increase, she says.

Workers and their union are asking customers and the public to call their local Bunnings store manager's on 0800 HARDWARE or to email Bunnings New Zealand General Manager at HYPERLINK "mailto:brad.cranston@bunnings.co.nz"brad.cranston@bunnings.co.nz to ask the company to go back into bargaining and to offer fair and livable wages.

ENDS

(1) Figures based on Australian union agreement from 2006. New Zealand dollars adjusted for both exchange rate and price levels between the two countries. Price level adjustment calculated using OECD Comparative Price Levels (December 2007) (HYPERLINK "http://www.oecd.org/std/ppp"www.oecd.org/std/ppp). Exchange rate of 0.8773 is based on an average NZ/AUS exchange rate from February 2007 to January 2008 using Reserve Bank figures.

(2) Wesfarmers, Bunnings parent-company and Australia's biggest company, had a 2007 revenue increase of 10.1% to NZ$11 billion, driven by a 15% increase in revenue to NZ$5.6 billion at Bunnings Australasia. Westfarmers CEO Richard Goyder received a 61% increase in income to NZ$6 million in 2007 taking his rate to 240 times the amount of a new full-time Bunning's worker in New Zealand.

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