Management of Farmers stores in Auckland
say they are disappointed workers took industrial action today,
including picketing outside the owner’s home.

The workers, members of the National Distribution Union, took the
action over what they claim is an “insulting” 20 cents-an-hour pay

NDU representative Laila Harre said most staff had been offered
an increase of 20c an hour on their $13.50 wage.

She said a small number were being offered 60c and others were
being offered nothing.

But the company’s management said it was disappointed and
disturbed to have learned through the news media of the protests.

It acknowledged that staff could lawfully demonstrate but said
the action of picketing outside the owner’s home was unusual in the
context of a bargaining process carried out in good faith.

Ms Harre said the latest offer was “insulting”, and claimed the
company could certainly afford to pay its staff what the union
considered a fairer wage of at least $15 an hour.

But the company said fewer than a fifth of its staff belonged to
the NDU.

“Negotiations between the NDU on behalf of its members at
Farmers and Farmers’ management have been conducted successfully and
to the satisfaction of all parties for many years,” the company
said in a statement.

“This year, after two days of negotiations, discussions were
held over while the NDU representatives sought advice from

The company said its management was under the impression that,
consistent with what had occurred in previous years, all parties
would resume negotiations soonest.

“That is the company’s preference. However, the NDU position has
been to schedule demonstrations,” it said.

“Today’s protest action follows the NDU, late last week, issuing
an open letter to retail staff to report on the negotiations so far,
but which did not fully outline the offer from Farmers management,
and inaccurately reported important aspects of Farmers’ last wage

Farmers management formally requested that the NDU correct the
statements and issue its members with a revised and accurate account
of company’s offer and position.

It said the union had done that today.

It said it remained committed to resuming negotiations as soon as