Countdown customer care specialists who deal with the supermarket’s online orders are taking partial strike action today and withdrawing labour relating to online shopping as anger grows among workers at the company’s comments about pay and value, FIRST Union said today.
On Thursday last week, at least fifty staff at Countdown’s customer contact centre in Auckland began strike action against the company over wages that workers say are not in line with market rates for comparable roles.
"It was deeply irritating and offensive to many of these overworked call centre staff to hear their managers publicly claim that the wages on offer represent ‘a fair an appropriate’ wage for the jobs they do even before the era of Covid-19," said Robin Wilson-Whiting, FIRST Union Retail Organiser and Coordinator for Countdown Stores.
"The feeling is that all of the company’s talk about how valued they are and how essential they are is just talk."
"After hearing this kind of talk for so long since lockdown, workers have asked the company to live up to it and pay market rates for these customer care roles, which have different demands and expectations for staff."
"Countdown have said no - we love you and you’re so essential, but no - and claimed workers already receive market rates, providing no evidence to back that claim up."
Countdown’s customer care team are employed on a separate Collective Agreement to other supermarket workers, and many do not receive a current living wage.
Today’s withdrawal of labour at the Customer Care Centre in Auckland will continue throughout the day and is expected to significantly affect Countdown’s ability to deal with surging online orders.
"Workers say they know they have public support, they know they really are essential, and they know that Countdown can’t work without them," said Ms Wilson-Whiting.