JB Hi Fi picket

Arguments employers used during the recession to stop wages rises don’t hold much water now. So it is not surprising there is now a small wave of industrial action for improved wages and conditions. In the state sector, the ACC and Housing New Zealand workers escalating their efforts to force their empoyers into serious negotiations.

This week metal workers, part of the EPMU union, hold stopworks across the country for a 3.5% wage increase, which they deem necessary to compensate for


(including the GST rise). In Penrose (south Auckland) Paper Reclaim workers have been on strike for three days for a $1 an hour rise. The National Distribution Union, which represents them, says

some are paid

less than $15 an hour.

One of the most vigorous efforts has been conducted by the Unite union for

the workers

at JB Hi-Fi shops, who haven’t had a rise for three years and are paid only 75 cents over the minimum wage. I dropped in on one of Unite’s spirited pickets outside JB Hi-Fi in Auckland’s Queen St last Saturday. The workers pointed out that company’s CEO Richard Uechtrit has just picked up a bonus of $1 million, bringing his annual pay to $4 million.