It’s great news that the Warehouse is making it a policy to lift wages.
This move is partly inspired by the Living Wage campaign.
The Green Party has been actively supporting this campaign that would see big employers sign up to pay a living wage. This is the wage that would allow their employees to achieve a decent standard of living and also enjoy proper time off with their families.
Employers in the retail sector employ thousands of workers and this is why it is essential that workers, and their unions, and employers work together to try and tackle the growing inequality in New Zealand society.
In the post war period the minimum wage used to be close to 80% of the average wage.
Since the 1980s this figure has dropped to around 50% of the average wage making New Zealand one of the most unequal societies in the OECD.
The retail sector can be great agents of change. It’s great to see the bosses of the Warehouse looking beyond the cost to their bottom line and seeing that an engaged workforce is just as important. The Warehouse considers that this move will lead to greater worker engagement, lower staff turnover, and improved sales and higher productivity.
This move will also pay dividends for both the Warehouse and other retailers. More money in the pockets of low and middle income New Zealanders means more money spent in the grocery and retail sector.
Now is the time for some other big organisations to step up to the challenge of providing a decent standard of living for their workers.