FIRST Union welcomes the announcements made by supermarket chains Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises that workers
will receive lockdown pay increases but is cautioning that the details of these promises matter and all essential
workers should be earning a living wage at a minimum on a permanent basis, including those working earlier in the supply
chain and in other essential services, FIRST Union said today.
"We’re finally understanding the value of our retail workers, who are putting themselves at risk and working tirelessly
to keep our pantries stocked and our people fed during this crisis," said Tali Williams, FIRST Union Secretary for
Retail, Finance and Commerce.
"It has taken a pandemic to recognise these people as essential, but that is what they’ve always been, and it’s the
reason we fight for living wages for all retail workers."
"While we’re praising the supermarkets for their decisions, we have concerns that the pay rise is just a temporary
measure, when those workers are worth a living wage in any context, not just when they’re some of the only businesses
"In terms of Foodstuffs, we want to ensure that the pay rise applies to all branches of Pak’n’Save and New World and
isn’t just a ‘recommendation’ from their head office to individual store owners - unfortunately, the franchising model
used by Foodstuffs has traditionally made it difficult to achieve consistent wages and conditions across the country."
"At Progressive, we must make sure that the increase also applies to salaried workers, because there’s a concern that
those expected to lead their teams during this crisis are not receiving any increase themselves."
"Most of all, other employers considered ‘essential’ should be looking to this kind of proactive approach and passing on
the pay rises those workers are due, crisis or no crisis - we’re talking about bus drivers, truck drivers, distribution
centre workers and others in the retail supply chain."
"These people are all working through the lockdown and are worth at least a living wage."
"Finally, this situation we find ourselves in shows why unions and campaigners have consistently called for Fair Pay
Agreements, particularly in supermarkets and other big retailers - at a time like this, it would be very useful to be
able to set wage rates and conditions across an entire sector and not rely on the goodwill of individual employers."
"We’re calling on all employers engaging essential workers during the lockdown to, at minimum, pay their staff a living
wage - and make it permanent, because they’re worth it."