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Thousands Of Supermarket Workers Petition Countdown And Foodstuffs Bosses: Pay Us Fairly For Level 3

Thousands of supermarket workers have signed a petition to the CEOs of Foodstuffs and Countdown, calling for the ten percent bonus to supermarket staff to be extended to cover the two-week period under the level-3 stage of lockdown, during which workers were still at a high risk of infection from the Covid-19 virus and their duties remained almost identical to what was required at Level-4 of the lockdown, FIRST Union said today.

The petition, signed by over 3,500 Foodstuffs and Countdown workers, is worded as follows:

To: Countdown and Foodstuffs management

"Essential Countdown and Foodstuffs supermarket and distribution centre workers should maintain their 10% bonus under Level 3. We, the undersigned supermarket and distribution centre workers, are continuing to work through an unprecedented time, with extraordinary new stresses and pressures including excessive queues and abusive customers. We know that we are essential at every level. We ask that our 10% bonus continues to apply for level 3 as well as level 4."

Supermarket workers contacted CEOs by email yesterday to seek video conference meetings with Countdown and Foodstuffs to present the petition formally and discuss the views of workers. No response has yet been received from the companies.

"This is a relatively small request from workers who put their lives on the line during a very scary time so that New Zealanders could stay fed, healthy and at home," said Tali Williams, FIRST Union Secretary for Retail, Finance and Commerce.

"It’s just common-sense that if supermarket owners can recognise and reward workers for putting themselves at significant risk for the four weeks of Level-4 lockdown, they can and should do so for the two weeks of Level-3, where very little had changed for workers and supermarkets were still making a killing."

"For Countdown workers who haven’t even received that bonus yet, there is an easy opportunity for their managers to pay out this additional allowance on Friday, when it’s expected that Countdown staff will be bulk-paid the initial Level-4 lockdown bonus, which they are yet to receive."

Supermarket workers say that under Level-3 of the lockdown, duties continued as under Level-4 and many workers faced a much greater level of stress than normal, with many noting that some "atrocious" behaviour from shoppers added to the significant pressure of working during the pandemic where hours were long, nerves were frayed and demand for goods sky-rocketed.

"In the longer term, the minimum goal is a living wage for every supermarket worker in New Zealand - we know more than every that Kiwis support this too - but in the short-term, workers must be fairly paid for putting themselves at risk in the community during such a crucial time," said Ms Williams.


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