New Zealand: First mall workers strike

Workers picket JB Hi Fi in Albany, May 25. Photo: Uniteunion/Flickr

Labour history was made as New Zealand had its first mall workers strike on May 25. Workers in JB Hi-Fi in Albany, organised with the Unite union, went on strike for better pay and against a culture of bullying and intimidation against union members.

Unite had already organised the first strike at a JB Hi Fi store on April 16.

Unite member Jack Lucas said: “Our manager told me that I would never get a pay rise if I stayed
with the collective. There was a lot of pressure put on me to resign.

“Now they’ve cut down on the areas I used to sell on in our store. It’s unfair— I’m rejoining the union and striking to stand up for my rights.”

Workers at JB Hi-Fi haven’t had a pay rise in three years, and now earn only NZ$0.75 more than the new minimum wage. JB Hi-Fi is making record profits — up 29% this year to an estimated $140 million.

JB Hi-Fi CEO Richard Euchtritz dismissed the workers pay claim of a $0.50 raise as “absurd” at the same time as he has taken a $1 million bonus, bringing his net pay to $4 million.

The NZ workers’ pay claim amounts to just under $200,000 a year.

Unite campaigns officer Joe Carolan said: “This is the first time that NZ workers have put up a picket line
inside a mall.

“Today these young, low paid workers will make history, as they take on a powerful and wealthy
Australian multinational.”

[Reprinted from the Unite website.]

Below: May 8 picket by Unite of JB Hi Fi store in Auckland.