Youth rates – good and bad employers

Written By: - Date published: 11:28 am, April 7th, 2013 - 31 comments
Categories: capitalism, Unions, wages - Tags: , ,

The Nats’ youth rate wages (“for when the ‘minimum’ wage just isn’t low enough”) come in to effect next month. Some of the big youth employers are making their intentions known. I am both surprised and impressed with how many of them are choosing not to go with the new low rates. From the First Union press release:

Yesterday McDonalds confirmed that it would join Restaurant Brands in not extending youth rates when the government’s recent law change comes into force in May.

Retail chains The Warehouse, Farmers, Kmart, Bunnings and the other major supermarket operator Countdown have all committed to not extending youth rates within their businesses…

Bravo to these employers!

… but Foodstuffs, operator of New World and Pak n Save, this week said it would be interested in greater use of youth rates.

Maxine Gay, Retail Secretary for FIRST Union said Foodstuffs was sticking out as a bad employer. … “Foodstuffs is a very profitable business. Their signal this week that they are interested in greater use of youth rates is driven simply by an opportunity to get away with paying young workers less,” she said.

Youth rates won’t create one single new job at Foodstuffs sites, it will just take money out of the pockets of younger workers (and possibly displace older workers in favour of the cheaper young). Keep an eye on which employers do and don’t go with youth rates – you may wish to vote with your wallet…

31 comments on “Youth rates – good and bad employers”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Looking forwards to boycotting Foodstuffs stores.

    • infused 1.1

      I’m sure they will care.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        That’s not important to me.

      • dancerwaitakere 1.1.2

        Infused, if they are interested in saving the small amount that they will make in extra profit as a result of youth rates (insignificant to a large brand, but a very significant amount to a low paid worker) then I am pretty sure that they will care when people stop shopping at their stores, negating the effect on profit that a rise in youth rates could have had.


      • Mike S 1.1.3

        They would be negligent to shareholders and pretty useless business managers if they didn’t care. That doesn’t mean that they would do anything about it or allow it to influence their decisions at all. But any business would (or should) care about losing a customer. They would certainly look closer at it and make sure it’s not the start or part of a trend.

    • Paul 1.2

      Does anyone know the best email address to use to contact Foodstuffs to explain why they are boycotting them?
      Maybe this could be posted on line here (and by the Labour and Green parties on their websites) with a simple straightforward template, so as many people as possible get the message through to this business.
      Greenpeace use this strategy all the time and it does help people get their message over.

    • David H 1.3

      Me too I’ll cancel the trip to Palmy Pak n Slave.

    • millsy 1.4

      I find that PE stores (ie countdown) have better food anyway.

      And the service isn’t too shabby either. I once had trouble finding something so I asked a staff member, she couldn’t find it so she asked her colleague, who managed to find it.

    • Melb 1.5

      But when you buy at Australian-owned Progressive, all the profits are going offshore!

  2. Populuxe1 2

    Interesting to see McDonalds on the side of right – usually they get name-checked for all that’s bad in the world.

  3. Saarbo 3

    Countdown it is!

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      Yeah, let’s just ignore how they treated the distribution union or whatever it was a few years back when they locked them out and as a result they didn’t have any fresh bread on the shelves. I was out of the country at the time so can’t remember the specifics.

      My mum now shops at Pak ‘n’ Sav and has ever since.

      • Te Reo Putake 3.1.1

        Here ya go, lanth:

        Prog’s lost 2-3% market share during the dispute, due to effective picketing and an unofficial boycott. That may not sound a lot, but it was millions of dollars of lost sales over the six weeks. It also cost smart arse CEO Marty Hammett his job.

        I mentioned the other day on TS how I bumped into a Progressive Enterprises DC worker while on my hols and he answered my question about the best thing about his job with a resounding “The union!”. Made my day.

      • Jilly Bee 3.1.2

        Apparently Foodstuffs targeted staff at Pak n Save when the Lincoln Road supermarket opened who joined the SFWU. Seems as if they are as bad as each other.

    • infused 3.2

      They are all the same. Hence my post to CV.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        If you say so mate. You seem to be saying so a lot, I notice.

      • felix 3.2.2

        Well no, they’re not “all the same”. Nothing is ever “all the same”.

        For example, this post you’re commenting on is all about how a bunch of companies are choosing to behave one way in a particular aspect of their dealings and some others are not.

        Christ man, it’s not rocket surgery. If you don’t care about anything apart from paying the lowest possible price then none of this applies to you. If you do, then you have choices to make based on all sorts of other factors.

        The wages my fellow kiwi workers are getting is a factor for me, that’s why my tofu dollars get spent on Tonzu. The presence of anti-worker anti-women neanderthal pig fuckwits on the face of my beautiful planet is another factor, which is why I haven’t bought a Talley’s product in the last couple of years.

  4. Lanthanide 4

    The interesting thing here is that because there are lots of the chains refusing youth rates, it should now make it more difficult for Foodstuffs to employ the youth, since they will definitely be everyone’s second choice when applying for a job.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Except for the huge amount of unemployment we have and that this government has gone to a great deal of trouble to keep so as to lower wages.

  5. millsy 5

    So are the right going to boycott Countdown seeing as they are not going to pay youth rates?

    • Walter 5.1

      Im a supporter of the right, but i have to say this new wage rate is a poor policy choice. I dont support it.

      • felix 5.1.1

        You’re just a sportsfan. You don’t know right from left. You just know you don’t like lesbians.

  6. Lenin's chin 6

    There’s nothing more sickening than big corporations pretending to be ethical! Let us not forget for one moment that, irrespective of whether they pay youth wages, the minimum wage, or the living wage, they still own the means of production and extract surplus value from their workers.

  7. Rosie 7

    Spot the non unionised workplace that is embracing new/returning youth rates………

    While the others experience differing levels of Union membership between worksites they all at least are making efforts and have collective employment contracts. Good on those businesses for having the smarts to reject exploitative wages for young people.

    The lock out of Progressive Enterprise distribution centre workers back in ’06 was largely down to the actions of the arrogant and bull headed Aussie CEO Marty Hamnet, but the workers rebounded and the company suffered as TRP points out above. What they achieved is good but when it comes to considering boycotting businesses due to poor corporate behaviour it’s not as straight forward as it seems and its useful to weigh up the pro’s and cons.

    On the downside for Progressive Enterprises(Aussie owned) is their tactic of blocking access to smaller NZ manufacturers and suppliers. Its ok if you’re a big player but not if you’re an up and coming smaller enterprise, or a traditional one that has been around for decades. Check out the content of NZ made stuff and the varying qualities of those products between the two stores.
    Remember too that each individual Foodstuff(NZ owned) store is independently owned and operated. Some owners are more reasonable than others, so if in doubt check them out. Ask your local foodstuffs store owner what their policy is re youth rates. If the answer is they intend to reintroduce youth rates let them know why you believe this to be wrong. They need to know that customers take notice of such matters.

    • karol 7.1

      Ask your local foodstuffs store owner what their policy is re youth rates. If the answer is they intend to reintroduce youth rates let them know why you believe this to be wrong. They need to know that customers take notice of such matters.

      Good idea. I often shop at the Lincoln Rd PnS, which, according to an above commenter, is unionised. So I will ask about their policy next time I go past there, and then decide whether or not to boycott it.

    • Tim 7.2

      “On the downside for Progressive Enterprises(Aussie owned) is their tactic of blocking access to smaller NZ manufacturers and suppliers. Its ok if you’re a big player but not if you’re an up and coming smaller enterprise, or a traditional one that has been around for decades”

      I recall making comment on this in the distant past elsewhere (perhaps on this site). Some years ago our piss-weak Commerce Commision apparently undertook an investigation into this – which of course went nowhere (according to a certain Vic academic).
      This idea of monopsony is really damaging to the small producer/business for obvious reasons, but of course this government finds it all hunkydory. (go the large corporate – fcuk the pathetic little start up)
      I am glad to see though people taking advantage of Sunday markets and other outlets as and when they pop up around the place.

  8. karol 8

    And it seems Brian Edwards has not yet decided to boycott New World – nor has Bill Ralston.

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