Monday, April 28, 2008
Striking food workers say kids biggest victims of current food price crisis
Striking food workers say kids are the biggest victims of the current food price and low wage crisis, says the National Distribution Union.
The Foodstuffs distribution workers began a series of indefinite extended lunch time strikes in Auckland today.
The ninety union members say they can’t afford to properly feed their families on their current pay rates.
NDU distribution sector secretary Karl Andersen says the timing of the strike coincides with a release of a major report by Child Poverty Action Group 'Left Behind: How Social & Income Inequalities Damage New Zealand Children' which the union is supporting.
“CPAG’s latest report has reconfirmed - yet again - that increasing income and wealth gaps are wreaking havoc in our communities particularly for our most vulnerable, our kids,” he says. “How long will it take for companies like billion-dollar Foodstuffs to take responsibility for the wage-poverty they maintain and start paying their low paid workers and families a livable wage.”
Mr Andersen says it’s appalling that the Reserve Bank is calling for wage restraint when one in five children remains in poverty, despite the recent economic boom.
The striking workers currently receive $14.59 an hour and are fighting for $17 an hour.
The company is offering to bump them up to $15.50 an hour but Mr Andersen says this is just not good enough for New Zealand’s second biggest company.
“Foodstuffs made its biggest profit ever last year,” he says. “They are profiting from poor families who are paying 9% higher food costs since 2007 as well as paying their distribution workers $2.50 an hour below it’s only competitor, Progressive Supermarkets.”