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Could These Guys Be Any Nicer?

New Zealand’s favourite maverick frozen dessert creators, Tommy & James, who have been winning hearts and tummies with their delicious dairy-free Nice Blocks and Nice Cream, are now winning at business with their no-holds-barred ethical stance.

This week marked an increase in the living wage set by Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand to $18.80 an hour, but unlike the many businesses who might use this as a further excuse not to commit, Tommy & James saw it as the perfect opportunity to give their staff a payrise.

“Why? Well we’ve already been paying them the previous living wage for the past six months, and now that it’s increased there’s probably nothing nicer than telling your staff that for no particular reason they’re aware of they’ve all just been given a payrise,” says James Crow, co-owner with Tommy Holden of Tommy & James.

Brand new customer service rep Chanelle Haffenden, who was hired only hours after James came across her story on Instagram, was shocked and stoked to start on a living wage. She came to his attention after he saw her picture holding a placard asking for work on a street corner in Manukau.

“It must have been 11 at night and as I scrolled through my phone I found this picture of a young woman standing on the street holding a sign reading ‘please give me a job, have resumes on me’. I knew she’d make an awesome employee,” says James.

Chanelle had applied for 60 jobs before getting the call from Tommy & James earlier this week.

“I didn’t hear back from so many applications and left so many resumes with a promise they would get back to me. I decided that from an employers point of view, if they would see me on the street, with my sign, dressed in a business suit in the hot summer weather they must be thinking this girl has a lot to offer,” says Chanelle.

The next step for Tommy & James is applying for Living Wage accreditation, which they’ve already gotten underway. The accreditation process also looks at several other aspects of the employees’ working conditions to ensure they’re not losing other benefits in order to meet the living wage.

“We decided right at the beginning to always put our employees’ welfare first as they do so much for us. How can an employer who expects the best from their staff then pay anything less than the living wage?” says James.

Though Tommy & James is a fast growing company, with expansion into supermarkets and cafes, James is quick to point out that the decision to pay a living wage is still something that affects their bottom line.

“We’re a rapidly growing business but we’re not a large company with big profits yet – still, we’re willing to make a stand on this to show other larger companies in our category that this should be done,” says James.


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