Union makes shocking allegations about unpaid overtime in retail

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Damning figures have been released by First Union, alleging the widespread practice unpaid overtime in the retail sector in New Zealand.

According to retail union First Union, many retail employees are being requested to work extra hours without recompense, in breach of labour laws.

The tasks include cashing up or tidying up shop, or for work-related meetings for the purposes of customer and sales training. The complaints have come from union and non-union members.

First Union received the complaints through their 0800 number and a public survey.  

The survey alone has received around 1,500 responses, of which 30% claim they have been required by their employer to work without pay whether it be for a meeting, or end of shift tasks.

Briscoe’s, Rebel Sport, The Warehouse, Countdown, Pak n Save, Cotton On, Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman, Farmers, Kmart, Whitcoulls and Warehouse Stationery have been contacted by First Union to advise complaints have been received that they need to investigate.

The union said that these are not the only companies that they received complaints about, and that others will be released in due course.

Union rep Tali Williams said there are a variety of big name employers involved.

“For some, it’s simply a rogue issue with one supervisor or manager not being aware that they are breaking the law, for others it’s a systemic issue throughout company stores nationally,” said Williams.

“We will work with companies to ensure employees are not asked to work without pay.”

She added companies who welcome the support will see no further action from the union, but those who don’t may face legal disputes.

“Those who do not comply with the law may face legal action from our members who feel they have been short-changed.”

Williams said many retail workers are on low wages already and can't afford to work for free.

She said that 20% of the working population in New Zealand are in retail, and “many of them are on minimum wage”.

Consequently, it's particularly important to get this issue resolved in retail because these workers desperately need that money, she said.


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