Monday, 7 September 2009

Distribution workers picket supermarkets

by David

Distribution workers from the South Island branch of supermarket giant Foodstuffs were on strike last Thursday. They held pickets at Christchurch and Dunedin supermarkets owned by Foodstuffs board members. Foodstuffs is a “co-oprative” of owner-operated supermarkets, superettes, dairies and liquor stores (Pak’nSave, New World, Four Square, On the Spot, Liquorland and Henry’s) and is divided into Northern, Central and South Island companies. 

I spoke briefly to workers at outside Papanui Pak’nSave in Christchurch. Low pay was the main grievance. One worker who had been at Foodstuffs for 10 years, is still paid a measly $13.80 an hour. Even the best paid only got around $15. 

The workers believed the starting rate for distribution workers at rival supermarket chain, Progressive (Countdown Foodtown and Woolworths) was $16.60 an hour and, and that in general workers there were around $5 an hour better off. 

In 2006 Progressive locked out distribution workers, but with the help of an impressive out-poring of solidarity campaign, the workers stood strong. They forced Progressive to back down and meet union demands for a rise and equal pay workers in different parts of the country. 

During that dispute much was made of the fact that Progressive is Australian-owned. The assumption was that as an Australian company, it didn’t give a toss about it’s Kiwi workers. This may have been true, but it’s also clear that the Kiwi capitalists at Foodstuff don’t give a stuff either, and for one reason or another they’ve been able to get away with paying even less.

1 comment:

David said...

South Island Foodstuffs Workers Strike Again

Workers employed by Foodstuffs in Christchurch walked off the job and proted outside the Northlands Pak n Save at 2.30 pm on Saturday September 12.