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Auckland retail workers storm major mall as they demand better pay

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The throngs of retail workers gathered in front of a Countdown supermarket in Westfield St Lukes. Source: 1 NEWS

Hundreds of retail workers have defied security and stormed a busy Auckland mall demanding better pay.

The workers from the stores like Farmers and Cotton On had gathered in a park across the road from Westfield St Lukes at midday.

But within the hour they marched across the road with their demands for the living wage, which is $21.15 an hour.

The current minimum wage is $17.70.

The throngs of workers gathered in front of a Countdown supermarket,  one of the retailers the First Union says is an “outlier” in not paying the living wage.

“We require the services of retail workers more than almost any other profession,” First Union said.

A Countdown spokesperson said in a written statement:

"We have been in bargaining with First Union for our supermarkets’ collective agreement for some months, and the union are now putting an offer to their members for potential ratification over the next few weeks.

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First Union is also calling for retailers to give workers enough hours to live on. Source: 1 NEWS

"We are hopeful of a positive outcome."

Protesting workers, some of whom walked off the job to take part, told 1 NEWS the minimum wage was not enough to live on.

Many said they could not afford to shop at the retail outlets they work in, and also asked to be given enough hours to live on.

Before entering the mall, First Union's Tali Williams told 1 NEWS many retail workers in New Zealand currently survive on minimum wage rates and don’t have enough hours of work to live on. 

Ms Williams said retail employers needed to be held to account for the low wages and conditions in which they employ their workers.

"Employers need to take notice that retail workers will not accept being minimum wage workers any longer, and neither will customers accept retail workers being undervalued."

Retail employers, including Bunnings and Kmart, have already agreed to living wages and now more employers are getting onboard, Ms Williams said. However, there are still outliers, she said, including Farmers, Countdown, some Pak'nSave stores and Cotton On.

The living wage is calculated to cover a family's basic costs like food, transport, housing and childcare.