Strike action against Farmers

One of New Zealand's biggest department stores, Farmers, is suffering from internal battles as employees have begun carrying out a series of planned strike actions.

The employees are members of the First Union and are taking a stand to combat the company's "unfair performance pay system." According to the Union, this performance-based system is a way for the company to keep wages down and keep workers from earning a living wage.

Tali Williams, finance and commerce divisional secretary at the First Union released a statement on behalf of the unionised workers. "Eighty per cent of Farmers workers are on less than the Living Wage," he explained. "Minimum wages are not enough to live on. Farmers is well behind other major retailers with its pay rates. What's worse is that Farmers is one of the only major retailers with a performance pay system that actively keeps wages down."

The first strike action taken against the company is the "F for Farmers: Farmers Workers Deserve a Living Wage" sticker, which will be worn on employee's shirts during their shifts. Workers from 40 of the company's 50 retail outlets will be taking part in this action.

Approximately 25 percent of Farmers staff are a part of the First Union.

Apparel Magazine spoke to Farmers' Chief Financial Officer, Michael Power, regarding the issue.

"We are very disappointed that First Union is taking this action, particularly as we are currently arranging mediation, to which the Union has agreed, to assist us in breaking the current impasse," he shared.

Negotiations, according to Power, have been going on between the First Union and Farmers executive since March this year.

"We do not agree with what the union has said about Farmers in its media statements and consider the use of the letter "F", and its connotations, in the slogan the Union has adopted to be particularly offensive," continued Power.

"Having said that, we do not intend to embark on a dialogue with the Union through the media and remain committed to bargaining direct with the Union in good faith."