Topics: Business, Employment, Rereātea - Midday News

Farmers retail store workers strike

By Jessica Tyson

Workers at Farmers retail stores are going on strike tomorrow over low pay and unfair pay reviews.

Beauty, sales and service assistants will strike for up to five hours from midday and 10 pickets are planned in Auckland, Rangiora, Blenheim, New Plymouth, Wellington, Hamilton, Gisborne and Hastings.

Members believe the performance pay review system at the company is unfair and have handed in a more than 600-strong petition to management asking for the Living Wage and an end to the performance pay system.

Farmers workers typically start on or near the minimum wage of $16.50 and, for most roles, the pay scale ends around $17.50. Any pay increases from there are only obtained through performance pay reviews.

FIRST Union retail spokesperson Tali Williams says the performance pay system is a disguise to hold down pay rates.

"There is a budgetary incentive for store managers to grade people as C's or D's because it means they only need to afford the worker a low increase or even no increase at all. Evidence of that based on our estimations 60-70 per cent of staff receive a C grading or less."

Williams says it's unusual for Farmers workers to strike.

"Women make up a large chunk of retail workers and they don't have time for strikes, they're too busy looking after family members as well as holding down their jobs. The fact they are taking action should speak volumes to their employer, they're fed-up."

She says the magnitude and size of the action is only seen when workers have exhausted all their options and feel as though they might be listened to.

The company's latest offer to workers was rejected by 93 per cent of members.

Rereātea has approached the company for comment but is awaiting a reply.