Thousands of Countdown supermarket workers to get living wage pay rise

Around 15,000 Countdown supermarket workers are set to get a pay increase that will see them paid the living wage from September next year.

Sign above Countdown entrance. Source: 1 NEWS

In a joint statement FIRST Union and Countdown say about 15,000 workers who have completed 12 months or more of service currently on rates of $17.70 per hour, get an increase to a living wage of $21.25 per hour from September 2020.

Countdown’s General Manager Operations, Brett Ashley, said the agreement reflects the company’s genuine desire to provide more income for its team.

"We’re proud to be a good employer and ensuring our team can continue to grow their earning ability is a key part of this. We’ve worked hard with FIRST Union to develop a fair path to more income for our team while also balancing the realities of keeping and creating jobs, and keeping food prices affordable for New Zealanders," said Mr Ashley.

FIRST Union's Tali Williams said: "Our members are thrilled to have stood together, negotiated together, and held out for a great deal that recognises their hard work and provides a clear pathway to the living wage".

Michelle McKenzie, 43, is a Duty Supervisor at the Church Corner store who has worked at Countdown for eight and a half years. For her, the deal is significant both at work and at home.

"A wage rise like this means we can spend less time worrying about making ends meet at home, making us less stressed at work and feeling more secure about our futures," said Ms McKenzie.

"In my life, it’s huge. I have four older kids, and as a family we can start to do more of the things together that we’ve sometimes missed out on in the past - two or three dollars an hour is a really big deal when it comes to living a good life and spending time with your family."

"It’s a common myth that supermarket jobs aren’t careers - in my experience, plenty of colleagues have put 30 or more years of their lives into their jobs, and this agreement means a lot to them in terms of recognising their long service and the benefits of a career in retail," she said.