8 February 2013
Foodstuffs merger opportunity to improve workplace relations and lift poverty wages
A potential merger of the two North Island Foodstuffs cooperatives should be used as an opportunity to improve workplace relations and lift their very low wages, the union for workers at the company says.
FIRST Union represents workers in the retail, transport and warehousing parts of the business, and its General Secretary Robert Reid said workplace relations leave a lot to be desired.
“Foodstuffs have been very resistant to working cooperatively with trade unions for many years,” Robert Reid said.
“In the end, it is their low paid workforce that has suffered, through the lack of any living wage.”
“Without union negotiated agreements, many Foodstuffs supermarket workers at Pak n Save and New World earn little more than the minimum wage.”
“Where our union does have a presence, we have managed to lift workers’ wages above these rates. But they still contrast with other supermarkets and distribution centres with a more productive union relationship, where workers are paid in some cases several dollars an hour more.”
The retail sector and its associated distribution channels employs more than 250,000 workers, and as a profitable large player in the industry Foodstuffs should set a better standard and respect its workers more, Robert Reid said.
“With a merger of Foodstuffs Auckland and Wellington cooperatives, now is the time to review their approach to their workers. We look forward to meeting with company to progress this,” Robert Reid said.
The National Distribution Union and Finsec joined forces in October 2011 to form New Zealand’s newest union – FIRST. The union represents 27,000 people working in Finance, Industrial (Textile and Wood) Retail, Stores & Transport. http://firstunion.org.nz