Union launches ‘Worth It’ campaign to help retail workers live better lives
Many retail workers in New Zealand currently survive on minimum wage rates and don’t have enough hours of work to live on. Pay rates and work hours are so low that employers struggle to fill vacancies, and a pay crisis is already in effect as the average retail worker struggles to live.
In response to the current retail workers climate FIRST Union members have decided to launch their own campaign. ‘Worth It’ will be launched today at FIRST Union’s South Auckland Delegates forum, from 10:30am – 11:30am at the Papatoetoe Cosmopolitan Club. Media are invited to attend and speakers will be available for comment.
FIRST Union has 12,500 members across the country working in the retail industry, but the campaign is aimed at transforming a large chunk of the working sector to better the lives of almost 20% of the New Zealand workforce who are at risk of insecure and/or low-paid jobs.
The launch calls on employers in the retail industry to pay workers a living wage of $20.55 an hour, give workers enough hours to live on, and ensure that as the minimum wage increases, so too do existing pay rates relative to this.
Secretary for retail, finance and commerce, Tali Williams says it’s shocking that the retail sector is exclaiming it can’t get workers, “How can someone accept a job that doesn’t provide enough hours to survive on, and how can someone accept a job that pays minimum wage when even a double income household on minimum wage can’t survive in the major cities where a majority of jobs are?”
Ms Williams says it’s affecting families and often women, and employers need to realise that retail workers need to be able to live a healthy life, and income is a large part of this, “It’s not okay that a majority of retail workers are struggling, this is a booming market of which its employees cannot afford the necessities of life.”
Ms Williams says it’s an opportunity for companies to do the right thing, as a growing number of employers are, “It’s about valuing workers because they are worth it. They are human, it’s about businesses acting in a humane way and this campaign is a unique opportunity for them to do so.”
“Employers need to take notice that retail workers will not accept being minimum wage workers anymore, and neither will customers accept retail workers being underpaid and underemployed”.