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Unluckystrike: Retail Workers Pay Opportunities

John Long

Has anyone else noticed the increasing noise in the media about Retail workers’ pay and conditions?

This is serious stuff for bricks and mortar Retailers who employ a lot of people.

Everyone knows that shop assistants aren’t paid much. It’s an entry level opportunity for some to move up into well paid leadership and professional positions. For many though, it remains a relatively humble occupation and the workers deserve to be paid what’s due, as every cent will count to them. However, it’s not going to provide everyone with a comfortable living.

But there’s a bigger picture here. Traditional Retail chains are facing tough competition from web based alternative retail models and competition generally. The margins are tight. Traditional chains are good employers for many, relatively unskilled, people. These chains enliven our high streets and are good tenants.

They are an important part of our traditional community life and many are under pressure!

So why are unions now pushing hard for better wages and even calling out Farmers employees on strike (for example)?

If the cost of retail staff gets out of balance then retailers will be more motivated to re-engineer the business, have tighter formats, with fewer, (but better skilled) staff, and leverage sales and productivity through the web… or they might just close up shop!

Are the Unions unconsciously helping accelerate the transformation of our bricks and mortar retail brands, and their members’ traditional jobs, to fewer, more skilled “brand ambassador” retail professionals, and the associated I.T. and distribution workers, who will back-up the online experience?

It might be worth aligning expectations and strategies between retailers and the representatives of their staff about the future of work!

The common ground is the value and difference that really good staff bring to the customer experience, thereby growing the pie and improving pay opportunities.

Constructive Thought


On average, New Zealand workers made $31.03 an hour in the first quarter of 2018. Average wages in hospitality ($19.64) and retail ($21.80) were lower than any other industry. That’s not surprising, when retail gives many of us our first jobs, and helps people to earn some income while studying or looking after their family. But it’s not much to live on when it’s your main source of income.

The minimum wage rose from $15.75 to $16.50 on 1st April, so that will boost retail wages for the second quarter of 2018. Many retail employees earn only slightly more than the minimum wage, and they’ll also be arguing for pay increases. Pay rates aren’t the only thing strikes are about, but they’re often a key issue (and the main one that the media will focus on). Retailers will have to watch their staffing levels carefully this year, as the upwards pressure on wages is likely to continue.  

In the Press

Local Media highlights from the past week...


The $3.8b splurge: Biggest commercial property sales of the year revealed

Commercial property sales of $3.8 billion have been recorded so far this year, driven mainly by syndicators and strong overseas interest, according to a new study out this month.

The report from Colliers International noted a "strong surge" in office sales this year which it said had been driven by syndicators and strong overseas bidding.

(Source: NZ Herald)


MasterCard looking to roll out biometric fingerprint cards in UK

Mastercard is in talks with British banks to introduce a biometric payment card, as a deadline to implement EU regulations to tackle banking fraud approaches.

Currently, the US company is testing the biometric card, which has an inbuilt fingerprint sensor, in South Africa, but hopes it can be rolled out in Britain in coming months.

(Source: NZ Herald)


IRD and Mbie workers stop work in favour of better pay provisions

Noisy protests were held around the country on Monday afternoon by unionised members at Inland Revenue and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Mbie) in support of better pay provisions.

(Source: Stuff)


Are young people that earn decent salaries too privileged to be thrown a bone by the Government? Jenée Tibshraeny thinks not

I would like to thank Housing Minister Phil Twyford for validating my generation’s “Ponsonby problems” as real problems.

By setting the income caps for KiwiBuild eligibility at $120,000 for a single person and $180,000 for a couple, he is recognising the difficulties otherwise privileged young people face getting into their first homes.

(Source: Interest)

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