Two Mitre 10 stores were told to pay their employees a living wage in a decision by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).
Called a landmark case, the decision was the first collective agreement in New Zealand that was determined by the ERA with a living wage being imposed on the employer, according to a statement by the First Union said.
Members of the First Union who work at Mitre 10 Mega in Dunedin and Mitre 10 Mosgiel, which are both owned and operated by local Otago business Jack’s Hardware and Timber, will be given their first collective agreement which affords a living wage.
Jack’s Hardware and Timber is just one of the many locally owned and operated businesses across New Zealand that make up the Mitre 10 NZ Ltd co-operative.
According to First Union, the ERA determination has set a precedent for retail staff and has widespread implications for other retail sites in the country.
The determination states that an employee who has some industry experience or skill that they utilise in their role should be paid no less than $21.00 per hour. For a worker with a trade qualification that increases to $23.00 per hour and the start rate is $19 per hour.
Neil Finn-House, Jack’s Hardware and Timber Limited CEO, said he is pleased to have concluded collective agreement negotiations with First Union following the ERA hearing that has settled two final outstanding matters: minimum wage rates and duration of the contract.
“Most kiwis will agree that it is important that local New Zealand owned and operated businesses are able to pay their employees rates that are locally comparable,” Finn-House said.
“Our objective at the Hearing was to reach a fair outcome, consistent with market rates of comparable businesses in the South Island, which maintains our ability to reward and recognize our staff above and beyond the minimum pay rates that the collective will contain,” Finn-House said.
Greg Hartford, CEO of Retail NZ, noted, however, that the new rate will see entry-level staff receive $1.30 an hour more than the legal minimum wage, and $1 more than the median wage paid in heartland South Island regions.
“While both the Union and the employer are hailing today’s decision as a fair compromise, the rates set are higher than those being paid by comparable companies in the regional South Island market,” Hartford said in a statement.
“When setting rates, all parties need to make sure that they are taking individual circumstances into account and that any comparisons made between businesses are comparing like for like. It is hard, for example, to compare wage rates paid by a small local store to those paid a large regional business, and it’s hard to compare a large regional business to a national or multinational chain.”