HomeNEWSKmart sets the example for employee recognition

Kmart sets the example for employee recognition

As retail workers across the country bargain for new Collective Agreements with their employers, Kmart has negotiated a new one-year CA for 2021-22 that includes the current living wage.

A team of FIRST Union delegates from around New Zealand have negotiated the new deal with Kmart. The offer is currently with FIRST Union members and will be subject to ratification over the next month.

Tali Williams, FIRST Union secretary for Retail and Finance, says the offer sets the bar for other major retail chains currently in bargaining with their workers like Bunnings, Briscoes, Cotton On and H&M.

“Kmart has recognised that its workers are the ones who’ve kept the business afloat and profitable throughout the pandemic year, and are doing the right thing by ensuring workers are paid a living wage,” says Williams.

“I’m proud of our negotiating team, who made their claims clear and approached the bargaining calmly and with unity.”

Kmart’s agreement will see hundreds of sales assistants move to living wages, wage increases for longer-serving staff, a new CA allowance for union members, and a commitment to addressing healthy staffing on a national level through a staffing review led by union delegates.

New employees at Kmart would receive at least the current living wage of $22.10 per hour after six months experience, and pay rates would also increase for coordinators and DC team members as well as sales workers.

Kmart worker and union delegate Hayley Allen helped to negotiate the new agreement, and says the pay increase will be meaningful to her and her colleagues.

“A living wage means a healthy work and home life balance and a lot less stress for people who work part-time like me,” she says.

“Kmart stepped up and set a standard – they did well during a tough year, and they know that was because of their staff.”

Bargaining continues around New Zealand at other major retail brands, and FIRST Union’s Healthy Staffing, Healthy Stores campaign will continue to make safe staffing levels, insecure hours, and living wages the cornerstone of these negotiations.

Williams says the offer shows that companies are more than capable of paying their staff a living wage even during a year of crisis.

“A living wage is the going rate in retail – anyone paying less is behind the curve.”

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