Grocery workers from both New Zealand’s main providers will be paid an extra 10 percent in recognition for their efforts at the front line of Covid-19.
Foodstuffs co-operatives representing 428 independent business members across Pak’n Save, New World and Four Squares nationwide have announced that all waged front-line, distribution and transport employees nationwide will receive a 10 per cent allowance on top of their pay for the hours worked throughout the four-week Alert Level 4 lockdown. This is in recognition of their willingness to ensure New Zealanders’ grocery needs are met and for the tireless commitment they continue to show.
The co-operatives also confirmed all medically certified vulnerable employees nationwide who are unable to work during the lockdown, will be paid during this period and supported as they self-isolate at home.
“We’ve been totally focused on keeping shelves full and ensuring our customers and teams are safe,” says Chris Quin, chief executive of Foodstuffs North Island. “Now that we have a better handle on these things, it’s time to clear up how we’re supporting our committed and essential team members.”
Countdown announced its payrise package a day later on Monday morning, noting that it would also be reintroducing short-term specials this week as the supply chain rebuilds and customer demand evens out. It says all waged supermarket and distribution centre team members will receive a bonus equivalent to an extra 10 per cent per hour worked over the course of the four week Level 4 alert lockdown.
From September, Countdown team members with 12 months or more service will earn a minimum of the living wage of $21.15 an hour.
Countdown has been paying any of its team who is required to self-isolate due to travel since February, and is also paying any team members whom the government has deemed to be high risk to Covid-19 including those over 70, immune deficient and those with serious chronic illness.
Salaried team in stores and distribution centres are also being paid for their additional hours in recognition they are going above and beyond their normal week.
Countdown managing director, Natalie Davis, says paying the team more reflects the essential service they are providing the country.
“As well as paying our supermarket and distribution centre teams more, we are also supporting any of our team members whom the government has deemed high risk so they can be encouraged to stay home and not worry about work.
“We’re also working directly with those in our team who are unable to work during the lockdown period for any reason, such as caring for dependents, to make sure they’re supported with discretionary leave.
“In terms of day to day support, we have increased our team discount for food and groceries from 5 percent to 10 percent and we also provide all our frontline and DC team with meals during any of their shifts.
“To help our team respond to the huge demand we have seen, we have also begun a significant recruitment programme. Five hundred new team members started with us last week. We are pleased to be helping create jobs for New Zealanders at this challenging and unsettling time,” says Davis.
First Union welcomed the news of the payrise, but took the opportunity to push for a living wage for the wider retail industry.
“We’re finally understanding the value of our retail workers, who are putting themselves at risk and working tirelessly to keep our pantries stocked and our people fed during this crisis,” said Tali Williams, First Union secretary for retail, finance and commerce.
“It has taken a pandemic to recognise these people as essential, but that is what they’ve always been, and it’s the reason we fight for living wages for all retail workers.”