Cotton On workers across New Zealand set to strike on Black Friday

Over 300 Union workers at Cotton On will strike this Friday, protesting the company’s refusal to provide a living wage to retail and distribution centre workers.

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The Black Friday strike is happening amid ongoing negotiations. Source: Breakfast

In a statement released today, FIRST Union said it will be the beginning of strike action over the Christmas period.

Negotiations between FIRST Union members and Cotton On began over six months ago, but despite input from workers and partial strike action over the past month, the Union says the company's standing offer would "worsen employment conditions further and result in a detrimental minimum wage settlement by April 2020".

"Retail workers are astonished that no settlement - or even real progress - has been achieved after six months of negotiation with Cotton On," said Tali Williams, FIRST Union Secretary for Retail, Finance and Commerce.

"Our members have approached these negotiations openly and patiently but have now reached the point where nationwide strike action is the only remaining option to let Cotton On and its customers know that these low wages and precarious hours are unsustainable for retail workers," she says. 

"Of all the major retailers that FIRST has bargained with, Cotton On are a significant outlier in that they are proposing no pathway whatsoever to the living wage for its workers, and instead will take them a step backwards from next year."

Protests are planned in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch main centres on Friday.

It comes as retailers prepare for the shopping splurge known as Black Friday, when Kiwis traditionally spend millions at shops and online.