Bakers, butchers and checkout operators have been on strike at the Whakatane Pak'nSave, with about 30 employees picketing outside the store.
According to First Union, the store pays “well below the rates offered by collective agreements at other Pak n Saves around the country” with the majority of staff on the minimum wage despite their skills and experience. The union also said that supervisors are on a pay rate of just 50 cents above the minimum wage.
One employee, who asked to remain anonymous, told Stuff that most of her pay increases over her 14-year career have been from minimum wage rises by the government of the time.
"I've worked here for 14 or 15 years and am on just 25 cents more than the minimum wage," said the employee.
"I am lucky if I can save $15 a week. I'll never be able to afford a home deposit until I am 40 or 50."
Retail organiser Marleina Kerapa said workers have tried multiple times to communicate to their employer that their skills and experience require a fair pay rate.
“We all need decent pay to cover life’s necessities and live with dignity,” said Kerapa.
First Union has had multiple bargaining sessions and attended mediation with the employer but they claim that the offer is still “significantly less” than what other Pak N Save employers are offering.
“The minimum wage shouldn’t be what a majority of workers are on, that’s not what it’s for, it’s a minimum, not a target for all.”
Kerapa added that workers aren’t asking for charity, they’re asking for a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
“This is about the fact that workers cannot survive on the wages paid at Pak N Save Whakatane.
“The minimum wage is supposed to be a starting rate for workers with low skills and experience – these workers have families to feed and have been loyal to their employer over the years.
“It’s time they got a fair share of his profits.”