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Introduction of Youth Rates Won’t Be Taken Lying Down

Media release: FIRST Union
Wednesday May 1, 2013           
‘Opportunist’ Introduction of Youth Rates Won’t Be Taken Lying Down
As the government’s new youth pay law comes into effect today, a large group of Auckland supermarket workers are taking action to prevent a wage cut through youth rates being introduced in their stores.
At 9.30am today FIRST Union members from Pak n Save Royal Oak are stopping work and will meet with workers from five other Pak n Save supermarkets, and from Foodstuffs’ two Auckland distribution centres, to plan their response to increasing employer hostility in pay talks.
From today employers can cut by 20% the minimum wage for 16 and 17 year olds, and 18 and 19 year olds who have been on a benefit for 6 months.
Today’s stop work follows the breakdown of pay talks in a number of Foodstuffs supermarkets.  A noisy picket will take place outside Pak n Save Royal Oak this morning.
“We have been bargaining with Pak n Save Royal Oak since September last year,” said Maxine Gay, Retail Secretary for FIRST Union.
“In all these months they have offered no payrise, and are trying their hardest to bring in youth rates.”
“Pak n Save and New World businesses are doing well.  They operated extremely profitably before the extended youth rates law came in today.  They are simply chasing an opportunity to get away with paying young workers less in order to make even greater profits.”
“Workers are fed up with the antics of Foodstuffs.  Across their supermarkets and distribution centre businesses they are acting in concert to strip down wages and conditions to the lowest level possible.”
Maxine Gay said workers would meet this morning to plan their next response.  She said that the meeting was the first time that workers from both the retail and distribution side of the business had come together in this way. 
“This reflects the growing anger among workers about the poverty wages the company pay,” she said.
Maxine Gay said Foodstuffs was isolating itself as a low wage employer of adults as well as young people among retain chains. 
Several other large chains have confirmed they will not be using the new youth rates law.  These include supermarket competitor Countdown, and other retail chains such as The Warehouse, Farmers, Kmart and Bunnings.  A similar confirmation has also been given by Restaurant Brands, operators of KFC and Pizza Hutt, Starbucks and some Carl’s Jr stores.

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