Food distribution workers strike for $2.50 (at 12 o'clock today, Auckland)
Ninety Auckland Foodstuffs distribution workers will begin indefinite lunch-time strikes for a $2.50 partial pay parity pay rise starting today, 12 o’clock at 60 Roma Rd, Mount Roskill Auckland.
Distribution sector secretary Karl Andersen says that while every day New Zealander’s suffer food price rises, food companies are making a killing off the backs of their workers low pay.
“Foodstuffs made its biggest profit in the history of the group in 2007,” he said. “Yet food prices continued to rise by 9% since then and grocery and supermarkets sales show no sign of slowing.”
“Foodstuffs - New Zealand’s 2nd biggest company behind Fonterra - made $7.2 billion revenue off the back of its low paid workers who, like other Kiwis, find it difficult to buy food for their kids.”
Mr Andersen says the Reserve Bank’s call for “wage restraints” in light of record profits and increasing sales is ludicrous.
The workers pick and pack food items at Foodstuffs main Auckland distribution centre for its franchises Pak ‘n Save, New Worlds and Four Square.
The company has offered the workers $15.50 an hour.
Mr Andersen says the workers want $17.00 an hour which would achieve partial pay parity with other union distribution centres whose average base rate is $17.50.
The majority of striking staff are on $14.59 an hour and the union is claiming a minimum 5% increase for the minority of higher paid staff.
“Equivalent workers at Progressive - Foodstuffs only competitor - who were locked out several years ago during their own pay parity dispute, are on $17.74 an hour and will go up to $18.34 an hour in August as a result of their successful action.”
Mr Andersen says the union recently won a $3 an hour pay parity pay rise at The Warehouse bringing equivalent workers up to $16.07-$17.73 an hour going up to $16.55-$18.26 in August with another $1.50 pay rise next year in August.
Union distribution workers who work next door to the striking company at Gilmores – a wholly owned subsidiary of Foodstuffs –are watching the outcome of the dispute as they will also be negotiating soon for pay parity from their much lower base rate of $12.25 an hour for identical work.
The union represents workers at Foodstuffs other distribution companies and several of its Pak ‘n Saves who are all on different collective agreements.
New Zealand Management Magazine Top 200 companies December 2007. Figures based on Foodstuffs Auckland, Foodstuffs Wellington and Foodstuffs South Island revenue sales combined.