Over the last week, around 7000 FIRST Union members who work at Countdown received their first payslips under new rates agreed in a Collective Agreement signed with the employer last November that will see thousands moving onto living wages, transparent rates and better pay, FIRST Union said today.
Tali Williams, FIRST Union Secretary for Retail and Finance, said Countdown workers with twelve months service would now be receiving a minimum of $21.15 per hour, which was a raise of almost $2 per hour for many workers.
"The pandemic has highlighted how reliant we are on our essential workers and the new pay scales take effect at a time when retaining and valuing our supermarket staff is more important than ever," said Ms Williams.
"Union members are receiving the new rates now while non-members will have to wait until December, so there has never been a better time to join FIRST Union for a supermarket worker."
For Isaac Mullin, an Assistant Department Manager at Countdown Feilding who helped to negotiate the deal last year as a FIRST Union delegate, the personal rise in income after eight years in the job is secondary to its broader impact on the pay and conditions of all Countdown workers.
"This was about getting paid enough not just to survive but to be able to live comfortably, to stop thinking paycheque to paycheque and be able to enjoy your free time a bit more," said Mr Mullin.
"I know that for lots of people, this means more time with their families and more money to spend on them."
"So many people have been saying to me over the last couple of days that they didn’t realise it was going to be such a big increase in their pay - it will make a huge difference."
Tali Williams says FIRST Union members at Countdown stores now receive the highest pay, on average, of all supermarket workers in New Zealand.
"In comparison, many un-unionised New Worlds and Pak’n’Saves are still paying minimum wage for most entry-level retail assistant roles, and even in unionised stores, the fight for better pay and conditions always happens store by store rather than as a workforce."
"A deal like this doesn’t happen by accident - it happens because people who work in the same company get together to solve the common problems they have and raise the bottom for the worst off."
"It’s possible in all retail brands and it’s possible in all industries."