Kmart worker able to prioritise health after union members negotiate living wage

A Christchurch Kmart worker says she's finally able to make her doctors appointments without worrying so much about the cost after the company's union workers finally negotiated the living wage with their employer.

Hayley Allen. Source: Supplied

Papanui "checkout chick" Hayley Allen, who has worked for the retail giant for six years, told 1 NEWS she's a type one diabetic, having lived with the illness for over 20 years. That means doctors appointments, fuel costs and prescriptions. 

But now the financial burden has been eased a bit after Kmart union members today negotiated living wages of $22.10 into their renewed collective agreement. The offer is currently with First Union members and will be subject to ratification in the next month.

"I feel like it's a huge thing, particularly for retail workers," Allen said.

"For a long time retail has been looked down on as a basic job, but over the Covid year we've proven we are essential workers."

Allen is one of about 1000 workers, a mix of both part time and full time, impacted by today's settlement.

Kmart Botany. Source: 1 NEWS

She said many of her colleagues have also talked about the burden of paying for childcare and transport being lifted today.

"I'm really proud of our company and of our bargaining team."

However, Allen added that other companies who were "quite resistant" needed to "step up" too.

FIRST Union representative Tali Williams called on companies they're bargaining with, including some well-known retailers, to follow Kmart's lead.

"Kmart has set the bar at living wages for retail workers," she said.

"It took two days of bargaining to achieve this result. We were pleased Kmart came to the table ready to value the voice of their workers and get them to living wages.

"Living wages allow retail workers to cover basic costs but also have a bit of family fun too every now and again.

"It's not a big ask and Covid demonstrated to us more than ever the value of essential workers - on the frontline, despite the risk, making sure we have everything we need."

Kmart has been contacted for comment.

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