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Countdown Customer Care Workers Take Further Strike Action

Workers at Countdown’s central Customer Care centre in Auckland are walking off the job this afternoon in their third strike action over underpayment and a disappointing new settlement offer from Countdown that they say is worse than their opening position, FIRST Union said today.

"This is a small group of specialised workers who are employed on a separate Collective Agreement to other Countdown staff, and they have been historically underpaid," said Robin Wilson-Whiting, FIRST Union retail organiser and Coordinator for Countdown stores.

"Their claim for higher wages are in line with most other contact centres around New Zealand, and Countdown, who have reported an increase in sales of 10.7% in the last financial year, should listen up and conclude this relatively simple negotiation by paying them what they’re worth."

Strike action began in late October with a withdrawal of labour that impacted Countdown’s ability to deal with surging online orders, and today’s action will involve a picket in Manukau City at lunchtime before workers take the rest of the day off.

"Our members are proud to see their colleagues on the supermarket floor and in Countdown distribution centres earning market-leading rates, so it makes even less sense to continue underpaying one distinct group of workers," said Ms Wilson-Whiting.

"It feels like we’ve been having this conversation for many years with Countdown since our first Collective Agreement was signed - online shopping has skyrocketed in that time, and as an essential service, these workers are vital during the pandemic."

"Their current offer goes backwards, which is nonsensical."

"Strike action like this is a last resort, but it’s sometimes the only way to show a big and complacent employer like this how much they rely on specialised staff who deserve fair wages."

"Union membership is surging among this group of customer care workers, and workers say they are determined to reach a fair settlement in time for Christmas."

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