Farmers employees in Botany, Manukau and Pukekohe have begun walking off the job on strike in response to the company’s refusal to pay staff a living wage, and its employee pay system.
While the protest started on Wednesday, it was only made up of partial strike actions, with employees standing down from parts of the business in order to send Farmers a message.
First Union, which represents approximately 40 per cent of Farmers employees, noted that 80 per cent of the department store’s employees are paid under a living wage.
“Minimum wages are not enough to live on. Farmers is well behind other major retailers with its pay rates,” First Union retail, finance and commerce divisional secretary Tali Williams said.
“Farmers needs to stay true to its family brand and ensure its workers are on living wages that keep them and their families happy and healthy, not struggling to get by.”
An Auckland-based Farmers employee, Lynda, noted she had worked for the business for 23 years, and doesn’t disclose what she earns to her family out of embarrassment.
“On my own, on these wages, I cannot save and I don’t want my husband to have to compensate for Farmer’s low pay,” Lynda said.
“Others are living paycheck to paycheck, they are struggling to pay rent and bills, I really feel for those who’re on even less than myself… Some of my colleagues need to get loans for simple car repair work because these are the things they can’t afford to save for while raising a family.”
Farmers pay system typically starts at around the minimum wage ($16.50 an hour), but employees can receive a maximum pay rise to $17.50 an hour, with further wage growth tied to staff performance bonuses, according to First Union.
Workers in response have given Farmers and ‘F’, wearing stickers on their shirts to prove it as part of the strike action started yesterday.