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Farmers staff go on strike

Employees of local department store chain Farmers have walked off the job in the first of a series of planned actions to combat the retailer’s reliance on an “unfair performance pay system”, according to First Union.

Workers gave Farmers an ‘F’ for payment issues, including the performance pay system that keeps wages down, as well as Farmers’ refusal to pay a living wage.

Staff will be wearing an “F for Farmers: Farmers Workers Deserve a Living Wage” sticker on their shirt at 40 of the retail chain’s 56 stores, according to NZ Herald.

“Eighty per cent of Farmers workers are on less than the Living Wage,” First Union retail, finance and commerce divisional secretary Tali Williams said, calling the business’s pay rates an embarrassment.

“Minimum wages are not enough to live on. Farmers is well behind other major retailers with its pay rates.

“What’s worse is that Farmers is one of the only major retailers with a performance pay system that actively keeps wages down.”

Farmers workers typically start on around the minimum wage ($16.50 an hour), but the retailer’s pay scale tends to end at around $17.50 with any further pay increases tied to staff performance, according to WorkersFirst.

This is not the first strike the retailer has faced in recent memory, with similar actions taken by staff last year.

First Union’s ‘Worth It’ campaign, started in April 2018, aims to encourage business to pay a living wage of $20.55 per hour to employees to assist the almost 20 per cent of New Zealand workers who are at risk in insecure or low-paid jobs.

“Farmers needs to listen to their own family values and return to the bargaining table with a Living Wage for workers and their families,” Williams said.

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