1500 sales work­ers lay pay com­plaints

The Press - - Business -

About 1500 re­tail work­ers have now laid com­plaints about their em­ploy­ers’ pay prac­tices with First Union this week.

The union yes­ter­day re­leased a list of the com­pa­nies al­leged to force staff to work un­paid. It has called on the com­pa­nies to in­ves­ti­gate the com­plaints.

The list in­cluded su­per­mar­kets Count­down and Pak’n Save, and large re­tail­ers Kmart, The Ware­house, Noel Leem­ing, Farm­ers, Whit­coulls, Cot­ton On Group, Briscoe Group and Har­vey Nor­man.

First Union re­tail sec­re­tary Tali Wil­liams said the com­plaints re­lated to un­paid meet­ings held be­fore stores opened and work­ers be­ing forced to stay late to ‘‘cash up’’ and clean.

Work­ers had not spo­ken out about the is­sue be­fore be­cause work­ing over­time with­out pay was nor­malised in re­tail, she said.

A spokesman for Briscoe Group, which owns Briscoes, Rebel Sport and Liv­ing & Giv­ing, said some of its staff were not be­ing paid to cash up at the end of their shifts. Those peo­ple would be back paid, he said.

‘‘This is our er­ror and we are now in the process of rec­ti­fy­ing it.’’

A Christchurch Cot­ton On worker, who did not want to give her name, said un­paid over­time was com­mon and ex­pected.

‘‘Every­one feels they have to do it, or else they’ll be sin­gled out and seen as the one let­ting the team down,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s re­ally, re­ally un­fair.’’

The store she worked at closed at 6pm, or 9pm on a late shop­ping night. Staff mem­bers were ros­tered to stay for half an hour af­ter clos­ing to cash up and clean, she said, but it was rou­tine for work­ers to spend 10 or 20 min­utes be­yond that, with­out pay, to clean the store to man­age­ment’s stan­dard.

If the store was not up to stan­dard, work­ers would be ‘‘called out’’ by man­age­ment in a Face­book group chat the next morn­ing, she said. ‘‘It’s all based on guilt, and it shouldn’t be that way.’’

Cot­ton On Group has not re­sponded to a re­quest for com­ment.

First Union launched a con­fi­den­tial sur­vey on Mon­day to de­ter­mine the scale of un­der­paid work, af­ter Smiths City was or­dered by the Em­ploy­ment Court to com­pen­sate work­ers who were not paid for at­tend­ing 15-minute pre­work meet­ings over a pe­riod of more than eight years.

A Ware­house Group spokes­woman said it did not know of any com­plaints. ‘‘Our team mem­bers are paid for all hours that they are asked to work across our brands.’’

A Count­down spokes­woman said it was un­aware of any com­plaints laid against it, but staff were paid for over­time worked and wages were rounded to the near­est quar­ter-hour worked.

A spokes­woman for Pak’n Save’s owner, Food­stuffs, said staff mem­bers were paid from the time they clocked in and clocked out of work.

Farm­ers and Whit­coulls are owned by the James Pas­coe Group.

James Pas­coe di­rec­tor Kevin Turner said the com­pany’s pol­icy re­quired all staff to be paid for meet­ings. ‘‘We have no sub­stan­ti­ated claims that this pol­icy has not been ad­hered to,’’ he said.

Har­vey Nor­man is owned by ASXlisted Har­vey Nor­man Hold­ings. Its New Zealand stores are run by fran­chisees.

A Har­vey Nor­man elec­tri­cal depart­ment worker, who did not want to give his name, said staff at the South Is­land store he worked at had been ex­pected to at­tend un­paid morn­ing meet­ings for the past sev­eral years.

He said those who did not at­tend were yelled at. ‘‘They were told: ‘You’re let­ting the team down.’ It was very clear those meet­ings were not op­tional.’’

Both Har­vey Nor­man and Kmart’s owner, ASX-listed Wes­farm­ers, have been ap­proached for com­ment.

The Labour In­spec­torate has re­ceived a 15 per cent rise in com­plaints to its call cen­tre since the Smiths City de­ci­sion came out last Fri­day.

BENN BATHGATE/ STUFF

Briscoe Group says it will back­pay em­ploy­ees who have not been paid for cash­ing up reg­is­ters at the end of their shifts.

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