Labour history has been made. New Zealand has had it's first Mall workers strike. Workers in JB Hi-Fi in Albany, organised with the Unite Union, were on strike for better pay and against a culture of bullying and intimidation against union members.
"Our manager told me that I would never get a pay rise if I stayed with the Collective. There was a lot of pressure put on me to resign. Now they've cut down on the areas I used to sell on in our store. It's unfair- I'm rejoining the union and striking to stand up for my rights" said union member Jack Lucas.
Workers at JB Hifi haven't had a pay rise in 3 years, and now earn only 75c more than the new minimum wage. JB Hi-fi are making record profits- up 29% this year to an estimated NZ$140 million. CEO Richard Euchtritz has dismissed the workers payclaim of a 50c raise as "Absurd" at the same time he has taken a $1 million bonus, bringing his net pay to $4 million. The NZ workers pay claim amounts to just under $200,000 per year.
"This is the first time that NZ workers have put up a picket line inside a mall" said Unite Campaigns Officer Joe Carolan. "Mall workers have the right to join a union and a right to take strike action. We believe that under the Employment Relations Act they also have theright to picket their place of work. Today these young, low paid workers will make history, as they take on a powerful and wealthy Australian multinational. Our union collected over 200,000 signatures in support of a Living Wage- now our members are taking the action necessary to force these corporates to share their profits"